In a no-holds-barred attack, senior Karnataka Congress leader Roshan Baig on Tuesday accused the state party chief of being a "flop show" and scoffed at AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal as a "Buffon", prompting the party to issue a show cause notice for his outburst.
Baig, a senior MLA, also slammed former chief minister Siddaramaiah for "dividing" the Hindu society by attempting to give separate religion tag to Lingayat community and "abusing" the Vokkaliga community during his tenure in the top post.
The attack by Baig who was miffed over being denied ticket to contest Lok Sabha polls came after the exit polls predicted a rout for the Congress-JD(S) alliance in Karnataka and NDA's return to power at the Centre.
Baig also appealed to the Muslims to "compromise with the situation" (about BJP-led NDA being in power) and not to remain like "cattle" and be reduced to a vote bank.
"Venugopal (in-charge of party affairs in the state) should have resigned when Congress got 79 seats in assembly polls (a year ago). I feel sorry for such general secretary coming to our state...," he said. "K C Venugopal is a buffoon, I feel sorry for him, I feel sorry for my leader Sri Rahul Gandhi Ji," Baig told reporters. He added, "Buffoons like Venugopal and arrogant attitude of Siddaramaiah and the flop show president Dinesh Gundu Rao...the result is this (Lok Sabha exit polls forecast)."
A red-faced Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee issued a "show cause" notice to Baig for his outbursts. It said Baig's remarks were being considered seriously as an "anti-party activity", and asked him as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. Seeking Baig's explanation in a week, the notice signed by KPCC General Secretary V Y Ghorpade said, "On failing to reply, further disciplinary action will be taken against you (Baig)."
The notice has taken strong exception to Baig's comments against Venugopal, Rao, and Siddaramaiah. "By making statements to the media and causing discomfort to the party and expressing your (Baig) displeasure publicly through the media, you have conducted yourself by going against the party's principles. Your conduct has dented party's prestige," it said.
Baig said the "drastic decisions" led to the downfall of the party in the assembly election and now the same was reflected in the Lok Sabha exit poll results too. "Nobody should divide the religion. A chief minister should behave like a statesman. What does it mean if he (Siddaramaiah) thinks he will win the election by dividing the religion? Isn't it madness?" he said.
He was referring to the Siddaramaiah government's decision to seek a separate religious tag to the Lingayat community.
While the Congress leaders tried to divide the Lingayat community, they abused Vokkaligas, alleged Baig.
"They abused (JDS leaders) H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy. They polarised people. They segregated Vokkaligas and Lingayat communities," Baig alleged.
According to political observers, the decision on Lingayat community had cost the Congress dearly in the assembly polls, in which the BJP emerged as the single largest party but fell short of numbers. The Congress and JDS then formed a post-poll alliance and the government.
"Look at the way CLP leader (Siddaramaiah) behaved - his ego. After going to the doors of Deve Gowda and Kumaraswamy with a proposal to form a coalition government, now you are saying I am the chief minister and I will be the chief minister again. People don't like such behavior," Baig added.
Baig's angst was against Congress giving ticket to just one Muslim candidate Rizwan Arshad against the demand for three candidates. "Earlier they used to give tickets to three minorities. Today they gave it to only one," Baig said. Appealing to Muslims to "compromise with the situation", he said, "we should not be sacrificed. We should not remain like cattle. We should not become vote bank of one side."
Asked whether he would quit Congress, Baig said he had not taken any decision yet.
Meanwhile, Baig's son Ruman Baig in a tweet said: "Congress has created a fear psychosis amongst minorities. They've created a narrative that minorities should feel guilty if they decide to vote for BJP. But in reality, Congress leadership just uses the minority vote bank as a safety cushion."
Reacting to Roshan Baig's outburst, Rao said the remarks crossed the limits of the party's discipline. "The results are not yet out but he is giving statements in a way as if he is extremely happy with the projections," Rao said. Baig had earlier, too, expressed displeasure against the Congress leadership for not being included in the cabinet, headed by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
His outbursts have come at a time when another senior MLA, Ramesh Jarkiholi, who is hobnobbing with the Bharatiya Janata Party, had threatened to quit the Congress along with other MLAs "soon". Later in the day in a series of tweets Baig once again hit out at the Congress state leadership and said, he has not bothered to read the notice sent to him by the party.
"I've received the show-cause notice sent to me by the KPCC. I'm not even going to bother to read it because it's clearly sent by the orders of the same people whose incompetencies were highlighted by me," he said in a tweet.