A song’s lyrics spark bitter fight between Siddaramaiah, Kumaraswamy
The unease that exists between the former alliance partners ever since the fall of the coalition government in July has now come out in the open with the announcement of bypolls for the 15 Assembly constituencies, in which both parties will contest alone.Updated: Sep 24, 2019 22:10 IST
The battle between former chief ministers Siddaramaiah of the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) turned personal on Tuesday as the two sparred over the interpretation of a popular Kannada film song.
Both leaders took potshots at one another during the day through social media posts and statements to reporters. The spat also proved there was a slim chance of the These incidents come less than a week after Kumaraswamy suggested that the two parties could go in for a “friendly fight” instead of a coalition in the upcoming byelections to 15 seats.
Though former prime minister HD Deve Gowda’s family has been sparring with Siddaramaiah for the past month, matters escalated after a speech by the latter on Saturday. Speaking at a convention in a constituency of one of the 17 rebels responsible for bringing down the Kumaraswamy-led Congress-JD(S) coalition government, Siddaramaiah said it was a battle for pride.
He went on to quote the lyrics of the song Neene Sakida Gini (the parrot you nurtured) from the Kannada film Manasa Sarovara, released in 1982. The song is oft-quoted to imply betrayal, with its lyrics stating that a parrot returned to attack the person who nurtured it like an eagle.
However, Kumaraswamy was irked when Siddaramaiah compared the byelection with the election to the Mandya Lok Sabha seat, where Independent candidate Sumalatha defeated Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil. Taking objection, Kumaraswamy had hit out at Siddaramaiah on Monday, saying it was the Congress that had ensured his son’s loss.
Kumaraswamy also said Siddaramaiah should introspect about who the eagle really was. “He should explain who attacked [former union KH] Muniyappa like an eagle in the Lok Sabha polls,” he said, implying that Congress leaders had worked to defeat their party’s candidate Muniyappa in the Kolar Lok Sabha constituency.
The spat escalated on Tuesday after Siddaramaiah put out a tweet, where he suggested that it was the JD(S) that was the traitor. “Yes you are right [Kumaraswamy], the parrots I trusted attacked me like eagles. It was my mistake that despite four-decades’ experience I misconstrued an eagle to be a parrot and formed a coalition with it. Will it not attack? What is a better teacher than experience?”
Responding to this in Channapatna, Kumaraswamy said it was Siddaramaiah who had ensured the collapse of the coalition government. “HD Deve Gowda will one day write about the 100s of parrots that turned on him, including Siddaramaiah,” he said. Siddaramaiah was formerly in the JD(S), and shifted to the Congress in 2006.
“I didn’t become the chief minister because of Siddaramaiah it was because of the Congress high command,” Kumaraswamy said. “Why did my government fall? I wasn’t a parrot nurtured by Siddaramaiah...” he added.
“Somebody works, someone else invests and Siddaramaiah grew as a leader because of this. Let him come out of the Congress and build a regional party like us,” Kumaraswamy said. “He got power because of the Congress, and he is the one who is now out to finish it, not me.”
In response, Siddaramaiah tweeted that he had not claimed that he had raised Kumaraswamy. He said it was Deve Gowda who nurtured Kumaraswamy while utilising people like Siddaramaiah. He said, he became a leader through peoples’ support, and it was thanks to this that he was chief minister for a full term of five years. In fact, Siddaramaiah was only the third chief minister to complete an uninterrupted five-year term.
“Having only been the chief minister with the support of other parties [Kumaraswamy], is it possible for you to be chief minister by yourself?” he said. Kumaraswamy was chief minister between 2006-07 with the BJP’s support, and for 14 months beginning last year with the Congress’s support.
Later, speaking to reporters in Hubballi, Siddaramaiah said Kumaraswamy’s party colleague GT Devegowda had said that the JD(S) leader had asked his party to support the BJP in the Mysuru Lok Sabha constituency. “Kumaraswamy is now playing innocent. He has to make such political statements because it is election time,” he said.
The matter didn’t rest there. Kumaraswamy responded in the evening, that it wasn’t Siddaramaiah who was used, it was Kumaraswamy was used and thrown in a corner. “Did I go to their doorstep asking to be made chief minister? He should introspect about what he did by using me while I was in power,” he said.
“Everybody knows how I became chief minister, the first time it was with the BJP’s support and the second time it was with the Congress high command’s support, not his,” he said. “I would like to tell him, let him come out of the Congress and form a regional party and show his strength,” he said.