Shangri-La jamboree: Surjewala, DK meet sparks concerns of Gandhi’s direct control

Gandhi family loyalist Randeep Surjewala chaired a meeting attended by Deputy CM DK Shivakumar and his ministerial colleagues, along with government officials

| Updated: 14 June, 2023 12:36 am IST
Congress National General Secretary and Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala chaired a meeting attended by Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar with officials of the state government and BBMP

NEW DELHI: Weeks after Congress finally formed the government in Karnataka, following their impressive win in the assembly elections, reports of the Gandhi family trying to control the affairs of the state are gaining ground.

In a recent development, Gandhi family loyalist and Congress general secretary in charge of Karnataka, Randeep Singh Surjewala, chaired a meeting that was attended by Deputy Chief minister DK Shivakumar, considered to be too close to the Gandhi family.

The meeting was also attended by ministers Ramalinga Reddy, KJ George, BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan, MLA Rizwan Arshad, Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) Commissioner Rakesh Singh, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Special Commissioner Tushar Girinath, members of the BBMP Restructuring Committee, and others.

The secret meeting at a posh hotel in Bengaluru has already created a buzz in the state, where Congress is divided between two power centres: CM Siddaramaiah and Dy CM Shivakumar.

Questioning the presence of Surjewala in the meeting, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Gandhi family of attempting to control Karnataka. The BJP further questioned Surjewala’s authority to chair the meeting, pointing out that he does not hold any position in the BDA, BBMP or government.

The party also alleged that the meeting was aimed at securing deals, alleging the orchestration of “85 per cent deals” to raise funds for the upcoming 2024 elections.

“Is this where the ‘85 per cent deals’ are being orchestrated by the ATM Sarkara to raise funds ahead of the 2024 elections?” the party asked.

BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal demanded clarification from CM Siddaramaiah, questioning whether the government is being run by Surjewala instead.

Yatnal raised concerns about the presence of government officials at a meeting led by the Congress general secretary, asking for an explanation regarding the purpose of the meeting and whether it involved fundraising for the BBMP elections.

Yatnal also inquired about the reclassification of BBMP wards under Surjewala’s authority.

Meanwhile, Janata Dal (Secular) legislature party leader HD Kumaraswamy also questioned whether the state government is being controlled from Sonia Gandhi’s residence at 10 Janpath. “Did Kannadigas vote for a puppet government?” he asked in a series of tweets. “Who gave Surjewala the responsibility and permission to conduct government meetings?”

Expressing surprise at Surjewala occupying the centre seat while senior ministers sat on the sides, Kumaraswamy demanded answers from the CM. He emphasised that the presence of senior ministers and IAS officers indicated that it was an official meeting and called for clarification.

“That means it was an official meeting. But Surjewala is occupying the centre seat, while ministers are seated on the sides. So strange! The CM should answer,” Kumaraswamy said.

In defence, Dy CM Shivakumar dismissed the claims made by the BJP and JD(S), stating that there was no such meeting as portrayed. He clarified that the officers had approached him for a visit to the BDA office and shrugged off the criticism from opposition parties.

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