Former Lok Sabha member VS Ugrappa and Congress state unit media coordinator M.A. Salim found themselves in hot soup yesterday (October 13) when they were caught bad-mouthing party heavyweight and state party president DK Shivakumar. Both leaders were on the stage to address a press conference. However, before the interaction began — unaware that the media mics were hot, the two leaders got down to conversing and, in the process, brought down the pants of DK Shivakumar, by accusing him of bribery.
They could not find another location to gossip about their party leader, other than at a press conference with media mikes recording what they said?? Video with Congress spokesperson #Ugrappa & media coordinator #Saleem, embarrasses party #hilarious @ndtv@ndtvindia #dkshivakumar pic.twitter.com/ATjTJEnf7Y
— Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) October 13, 2021
The duo talked in Kannada about income tax raids in Karnataka, especially on a political consultancy firm called ‘Designboxed’. They say that an aide of Shivakumar “made around [Rs] 50-100 crore” and wonder how much Shivakumar himself made.
Salim can be heard saying in the clip, “It was six to eight per cent before then it became 10 to 12 per cent. It is all DK adjustment. Mulgund (aide of DK) has made Rs 50-100 crore. Imagine if Mulgund has this, then how much DK has,”
Salim continued the chatter in a hushed voice, “His house is near SM Krishna’s house here in Bengaluru. This is a huge scandal and if you dig deeper, his (DK’s) name will also crop up. You are not aware sir, but Mulgund (DK Shivakumar’s aide) makes Rs 50-100 crore in collections. If he made Rs 50-100 crores collection, imagine how much DK would have made.”
Salim even discussed Shivakumar’s style of speaking by stating, “He [DK] stammers when he speaks. Don’t know if he has low BP or sugar. You see when he talks. Media persons ask me if he is drunk. He is not drunk, that is just his talking style”
After the video of two leaders gossiping amongst themselves went viral on social media platforms, a red-faced Karnataka Congress was forced to expel MA Salim for six months and send a show-cause notice to Ugrappa.
Siddaramaiah faction planned the whole fiasco?
Infighting amongst the party ranks was the reason Congress-JD(S) alliance lost the trust vote in Karnataka Assembly in 2019 and eventually ceded power to BJP’s BS Yediyurappa. With two years to go for the next assembly elections, it appears that the Siddaramaiah faction has swung into action and started playing clever chess moves to sideline longtime rival DK Shivakumar.
The two leaders ensnared in the controversy are no greenhorns when it comes to politics and more so when it comes to the political duties that the job entails. Addressing media is one of the basic tasks the party functionaries are trained in and thus it is highly unlikely that they were unaware that the mics were not working.
Blissful and candid in their chat, they both shredded Congress’ troubleshooter’s image and in doing so helped Siddaramaiah lay his stake, much more decisively on the CM candidate chair.
A tussle for the CM candidate chair
Both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar are being seen as potential CM candidates when the party contests the assembly elections in 2023. However, by agreeing to let HD Kumaraswamy become the CM, in order to keep the BJP out of the state, Siddaramaiah had made quite a sacrifice. The old workhorse, as a result, was expecting a direct endorsement from the top Congress brass as the CM face this time around.
However, with the Gandhi clan keeping both groups guessing, it appears that Siddaramaiah was done waiting and took matters into his own hands. A ploy that looks straight out of a Bollywood movie was planned and executed to perfection by the two leaders who might have to sit out the party for some time but will be reinstated when the heat subsides.
All in all, it was another day in the life of an ordinary congress worker where internal politics form the major fulcrum of their job profile as senior leaders engage in bicep measuring contest.