Karnataka MLC CM Ibrahim announced on Saturday that he is quitting the State Legislative Council as well as the Congress party after his poor performance in recent assembly elections held in five states. He is expected to join the Janata Dal (secular) he left years ago.
A powerful leader of the state’s Muslim community, Ibrahim said Congress was a sinking ship. “They don’t recognize the people who work in the field but try to elevate the people who don’t have a network with the public,” he said. Ibrahim is the first leader to leave the party after the Assembly poll results.
In his letter to Indian National Congress Speaker Sonia Gandhi on Saturday, Ibrahim said that over the past 12 years he had written many letters asking to address several party grievances. He had been assured that the necessary corrective action would be taken, but he had seen no change, he said.
“If elections had taken place to appoint the leader of the opposition or if an opinion had been collected from all the MLCs of our party, then I would have been definitively elected since 18 deputies supported me. But the party chose BK Hari Prasad, the youngest member, as leader of the opposition in the legislative council. Whenever I raised basic questions regarding the functioning and development of the party, I did not receive an appropriate response. As a senior party leader, I couldn’t speak to you directly and present the facts to you, but I have to be routed through the general secretaries in charge and you know well how they react, which I don’t want to elaborate . Either way, I tender my resignation from main party membership with immediate effect,” the letter read.
Sources said Ibrahim’s latest move was not unexpected as he was unhappy with the way leaders of the Muslim community, including himself, were being treated, especially after the appointment of DK Shivakumar as Chairman of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).
“If the party chairman (Shivakumar) tells us to remain silent on the hijab issue, how can I stay there? We didn’t want burkas or hijabs, they could have at least pressured women to wear headscarves. Indira Gandhi and freedom fighter Kittur Rani Chennamma wore headscarves,” the disgruntled leader said.
“Muslims make up about 21% of voters and they need us to get those votes, but those in the community have never been given a major portfolio,” he added.
Ibrahim said he had held talks with former prime minister and JD(S)HD supremo Deve Gowda and other leaders and would start traveling across the state from March 20. “You saw what happened in the four states where the BJP won. Only the JD(S) can prevent the BJP from taking power at present,” he claimed.
He said the Aam Aadmi party also approached him recently, but he chose to stay with the JD(S). “It is better to walk the road that I have walked,” he said. Ibrahim also claimed that several elected officials would switch allegiance between parties ahead of the 2023 elections.
With its exit from the State Legislative Council, the BJP will now have a majority to pass the anti-conversion law which has been given the green light by the Legislative Assembly. Speaking of this, he said, “I’ll leave it up to the Congress party to decide the matter.”
Ibrahim entered electoral politics by running on a Janata party ticket in 1978 and became a minister under the government led by Gundu Rao. He later moved to JD(S) and served as a minister and close associate of Deve Gowda. After the Siddaramaiah fallout with the former prime minister, Ibrahim also left the party and joined Congress in 2008.
He is known for his speeches and his influence on the minority community.