Medical College Issue: DK Shivakumar Alleges ‘Vendetta Politics’
DK Shivakumar said that he wouldn’t allow the medical college to be shifted out of his constituency, Kanakapura.
Former Karnataka Medical Education Minister DK Shivakumar returned to Bengaluru four days ago after a 50-day stint at New Delhi’s Tihar jail on allegations of money laundering. Three days after his return to Karnataka, DK Shivakumar has stirred up a controversy about a medical college that was to be constructed in his constituency in Ramanagara district’s Kanakapura.
During the 2018-19 budget, the Congress-JD(S) coalition government had announced the construction of a medical college in Kanakapura. At the time, DK Shivakumar held the Medical Education and Water Resources portfolios. Shivakumar claimed that the then Chief Minister Kumaraswamy had also given the go-ahead for the project and was supposed to lay the foundation stone for the construction of the medical college in July this year. However, after the political turmoil that led to the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in July, the new BJP government decided to shift the proposed medical college from Kanakapura to Chikkaballapura, which was the constituency of disqualified Congress MLA Dr K Sudhakar.
On Tuesday, DK Shivakumar told the media that he would not allow the medical college to be shifted to Chikkaballapura. “We wanted a government medical college in my constituency (Kanakapura). This was one of the major reasons why I had asked for Medical Education portfolio during the coalition rule, even though Rahul Gandhi had offered me two other bigger portfolios. When Kumaraswamy was the Chief Minister, he had allotted land and had also sanctioned the proposal to open a medical college in Kanakapura. Kumaraswamy was also supposed to lay the foundation stone in July. But that did not happen,” DK Shivakumar told the media.
DK Shivakumar alleged that once the Congress-JD(S) coalition collapsed, the BJP, which owed Dr K Sudhakar for rebelling against the Congress-JD(S) combine, decided to drop the plan to construct a medical college in Kanakapura and shift it to Chikkaballapura. “When the construction is set to begin, they (BJP) are indulging in vendetta politics. It was my dream project. I will not allow the medical college to be shifted to Chikkaballapura at any cost. I will sacrifice my life at the Vidhana Soudha if I have to, to ensure that the college is constructed in my constituency,” DK Shivakumar said.
Soon after DK Shivakumar made the statement, Dr K Sudhakar, disqualified Chikkaballapura MLA challenged the Congress leader, stating that he would ensure that the medical college is constructed in his constituency and not Kanakapura
“DK Shivakumar does not have to sacrifice his life. We are constructing the medical college to save lives. He thinks Kanakapura is Karnataka. It is just a taluk. The previous government had decided that every district would get a medical college. When he was Medical Education Minister, he should have released the funds for it but he did not. It is because of this step-motherly treatment that I resigned,” Dr K Sudhakar said.
The former legislator and Chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board also said that he would get Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa to lay the foundation stone for the medical college in Chikkaballapura.
“Before the bye-elections, I will lay the foundation stone for the college and this is 100% true. And I will get Yediyurappa to lay the foundation stone. There is already one medical college coming up in Ramanagara under Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences. The government has decided to construct one in Chikkaballapura. I will retire from politics if the government fails to construct the college here,” he added.
The row over the medical college is being perceived by many in political circles as DK Shivakumar’s strategy to discredit rebels from the Congress who led to the fall of the government in July. During the Assembly session held in July ahead of the vote of confidence, DK Shivakumar had openly challenged the rebel leaders and had vowed to ensure their defeat in the bye-elections.
True to his word, DK Shivakumar has now plunged into the battle to discredit the rebels, and at the centre of this campaign is the medical college and Dr K Sudhakar.
Congress leaders, especially DK Shivakumar, have time and again said that the rebels resigned from their posts due to the promise of money and power they were allegedly offered by the BJP. With the bye-elections slated to be held on December 5, DK Shivakumar, known as the party’s troubleshooter, is already building up a narrative to discredit his detractors and the row over the medical college is just the tip of the iceberg, sources say.
Shivakumar and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah are believed to have put their weight behind Sharath Bacche Gowda, son of BJP MP Bacche Gowda, who is mulling over contesting on a Congress ticket. Sharath Bacche Gowda was an aspirant for the BJP ticket from Hoskote. However, disqualified MLA MTB Nagaraj is being seen as the BJP face in Hoskote, thereby angering Sharath, who has on several occasions expressed his displeasure over the issue openly.
“Discrediting the rebels is the first strategy. Dr Sudhakar has a huge following and being a Vokkaliga leader, it became doubly important for DK Shivakumar to ensure that Sudhakar (also from the Vokkaliga community) does not gain popularity in Old Mysuru region as it would split the Congress vote bank. The plan is to bring out allegations against each rebel one by one, to show that they have taken favours from the BJP and resigned,” the Congress source said.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)
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