Karnataka’s ruling Congress under Chief Minister Siddaramiah and Deputy Chief Minister, D. K. Shivakumar, is coming under increasing pressure from its members and Central leadership over its comparatively poor show in the Lok Sabha polls. Shivakumar is also the state unit chief of the party .

Added to their woes, is the multi-crore scam in the state-run Maharishi Valmiki Scheduled Tribe Development Corporation (MVSTDC), which has shaken the government.

Even though this time the party did improve on its 2019 performance substantially, bagging nine seats against the solo seat won earlier, the number fell much below the state leadership’s target of 20. That the party’s Central leadership was annoyed with the show was apparent from Rahul Gandhi’s reaction, during his short visit to the state last week.

The embarrassed pair of Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, are now finding it difficult to explain the reasons behind their bad poll results to the Central leadership. This is evident from the reports filtering in from the Congress Working Committee meeting held on June 8 in New Delhi .

This explains the CWC’s decision to form a committee to analyse the results of the Lok Sabha polls in the state. According to party sources, the local leaders of the party failed to enthuse voters from the backward and minority communities in urban areas, in comparison to the rural segments.

This apart, it is learnt that Siddaramaiah may now be forced to reshuffle his Cabinet. He may look at the possibility of dropping several ministers in the Assembly segments that came under the Parliamentary constituencies concerned.

If this was not enough, the Siddaramaiah government has been hit by a major scam, the enormity of which is mind blowing. The immediate fallout is the resignation of B. Nagendra, minister for Scheduled Tribes Welfare Department.

This has had an adverse impact on the ruling party, because in 2023 it rode to power on the back of corruption charges against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The MVSTDC scam, exceeding Rs 89 Crore, surfaced after one of its officials left a suicide note detailing the alleged irregularities and the accompanying harassment that he was facing.

While the government did suspend some of the senior officials of the corporation besides setting up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the charges, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now stepped in to probe the irregularities.

The CBI probe follows the complaint by the Union Bank of India (UBI) head office last week, regarding embezzlement of public money in the state-run corporation, involving its Mahatma Gandhi Road branch in Bengaluru as well.

The public sector bank also suspended three of its officials. Meanwhile, the state run body had also filed an FIR against top UBI officials over embezzlement of Rs 88 Crore.

These developments have given the Opposition BJP enough ammunition to mount an attack on the ruling government. The BJP is now demanding the CM’s resignation.

The BJP has now alleged that Sharan Prakash Patil, Medical Education minister, and B. Dadal, MVSTDC chairman are also connected with the alleged scam.

The minister, however, has disputed the allegation claiming that he was being falsely implicated. Likewise, Dadal has contested the charges against him.

The BJP and its NDA partner, the Janata Dal-Secular, however, have intensified their protests against the government claiming that evidence is mounting, indicating how the money meant for upliftment of the Dalits was being looted.

These allegations apart, the irregularities in the MVSTDC have now forced citizens to raise questions over the functioning of related undertakings under the government. This has added to the problems of the beleaguered CM and his party.

Adding to this crisis, Satish Jarkiholi, the Public Works minister, slammed his own leaders for the party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls. He attributed the party’s nine-seat win to “overconfidence”. Food and Civil Supplies minister K. H. Muniyappa, added his bit by urging the senior leaders to pull up those responsible for the party candidate’s defeat in Kolar, a seat he represented seven times. Satish and Muniyappa are senior Dalit and Backward Community leaders.

More disconcerting for the Siddaramaiah government, however, is the statement made by M. Lakshmana, spokesman of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. Lakshmana lost the contest for the Mysore-Kodagu Parliamentary seat to BJP’s Yaduveer Wadiyar.

According to Lakshmana, the ‘five guarantees’ extended by the Congress, post its win in the 2023 Assembly polls, had “made the beneficiaries lazy. The mandate of the people clearly proves that most of the beneficiaries are from the Above Poverty Line (APL) and well to do families.”

In this context, he added that the BJP was in favour of dropping these schemes, and instead to utilise the available funds to promote projects for development. “We have to introspect and stop the guarantee schemes that are not liked by the people,” especially as the voters had supported the BJP in this regard,” Lakshmana said.

Meanwhile, amid this turbulence that the Congress is facing, Siddaramaiah, would be happy that at least for now Shivakumar , who was eyeing his ‘throne’, has been reined in following the defeat of his brother, D. Suresh, in the Bengaluru Rural Parliamentary segment.

In the constituency dominated by the two brothers, the Congress lost face as Dr C. Manjunath, the BJP candidate and former Prime Minister, Deve Gowda’s son-in-law, defeated Suresh by over 2.6 lakh votes, a shock from which the siblings have yet to recover from. More so, as Suresh, then the incumbent MP, was looking to retain the seat for the fourth time.

After the results, a visibly shocked Shivakumar admitted, “Bangalore Rural is my personal defeat.” He added that he went to campaign in other seats and states even though he was aware that anti-Congress votes would unite in Bangalore Rural.

“We knew that all BJP and JD-S votes, except that of the minorities, would come together. But we didn’t expect that to happen the way it did,” Shivakumar exclaimed.

Significantly, BJP’s MLA, S. Gowda, added spice to the contest between the Congress candidate and D. Manjunath by claiming that “Siddaramaih and his team conspired to ensure Suresh’s defeat”.

Gowda alleged that Siddaramaiah and his Ahinda team (Kannada acronym for dalits, backward communities and minorities) ensured the defeat of Shivakumar’s brother if only to retain the dominance of the CM in state politics. The idea was to puncture Shivakumar’s ego and confidence.

In this context, the BJP MLA claimed that the Congress government was bound to fall soon following the polarisation in the party. This was evident from the infighting in the party in Belagavi district coupled with its loss of the prestigious Bengaluru Rural Parliamentary seat. “Shivakumr,accordingly, would not be able to realise his ambition of wearing the CM’s crown,” Gowda claimed. Till the time of writing, neither Siddaramaiah ,nor Shivakumar had reacted to the MLA’s comments.