In a significant counter to the move by loyalists of Congress leader in Lok Sabha M Mallikarjun Kharge, who met the veteran and urged him to return to state politics, 24 die-hard supporters of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met their leader and expressed confidence in his leadership here on Saturday.
While addressing these legislators, Mr Siddaramaiah sent out a message to Mr Kharge: “I will be the Chief Minister for the remaining two years. And in the next Assembly elections, too, I will lead the party.”
These “like-minded” legislators, led by S T Somashekar, spent more than an hour with the Chief Minister and prevailed upon him to carryout a major reshuffle of the cabinet, asking senior ministers to make way for new faces and work to strengthen the party.
“Our main intention is to retain power during Assembly elections in 2018. So, seniors who are well-versed in grass-root politics, should work to strengthen the party and ensure its return to power in 2018. Once the party returns to power, they can become ministers again,” remarked a legislator who attended the meeting.
Mr K N Rajanna told the media that Mr Siddaramaiah was urged to employ the “Kamaraj plan” of asking all ministers to submit their resignation letters so that the leader would have free hand to recast his ministry.
He said their meeting with Mr Siddaramaiah would be followed up with ones with Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dr G Parameshwar on April 11, and party general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, Digvijay Singh, on April 13 to impress upon these leaders the need to reshuffle the ministry at the earliest and that the Chief Minister be given a free hand to pick his team while dropping ministers with a poor performance record.
He claimed that the Chief Minister assured them that non performing ministers would be dropped to accommodate new faces, and the entire exercise would be carried out in consultation with central leaders of the party in New Delhi.