Special Correspondent

Siddaramaiah was upset over the delay in appointment

Senior Congress leaders held emergency meeting with Siddaramaiah to defuse situation

Kharge is said to have sent in his resignation

to Sonia Gandhi without a murmur of protest

GULBARGA: Senior Congress leader M. Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday resigned from the post of the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) and also from the post of leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, making way for former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to become the leader of the CLP as well the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.

According to Congress sources, the sudden development in the party was due to the reported displeasure expressed by Mr. Siddaramaiah to party leaders on the delay in appointing him as the leader of the CLP, and his reported refusal to take part in the party campaign in Karnataka.

Senior party leaders, including Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president R.V. Deshpande and All India Congress Committee general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad held emergency talks with Mr. Siddaramaiah and tried to assuage his injured feelings, and convinced him that a decision on appointing him as the leader of the CLP would be taken in a couple of days.

Discussions

Following these developments, party sources said Mr. Azad held discussions with Mr. Kharge and persuaded him to submit his resignation. The Congress high command, during the process of selecting the party candidates for the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, had persuaded Mr. Kharge to give up the post of the leader of the CLP and contest in the Lok Sabha elections to make way for Mr. Siddaramaiah. Mr. Kharge, according to sources close to him, without even a murmur of dissent sent the resignation letter to AICC president Sonia Gandhi by fax on Saturday.

Denial

However, Mr. Siddaramaiah, Mr. Deshpande and Mr. Kharge denied all these developments and termed it as a “creation of a section of the media”. Speaking to presspersons separately, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that he had never made it an issue that he should be nominated as the leader of the CLP for campaigning for the party. He said: “The party high command had promised me that I would be made the leader of the CLP and the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, and I have full confidence that these assurance would be adhered to.”

Mr. Kharge, who neither denied or accepted the fact that he had sent the resignation letter to the AICC president, said that abiding by the decision of the party high command to contest in Lok Sabha elections was a signal to resign from the post of the leader of the Opposition. “Everything is left to the party high command. I would abide by all the decisions taken by it as a loyal soldier of the party,” he said.

No qualms

Mr. Deshpande said that he was not aware of Mr. Kharge’s resignation or of Mr. Siddaramaiah making an issue of campaigning for party candidates. “Mr. Siddaramaiah is a senior leader and he has been assured of a senior position and he would get that in due course,” he said.

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