Less than a week after the Election Commission announced by-elections to constituencies represented by 15 out of 17 disqualified former Congress-Janata Dal Secular MLAs, a war of words started today between former chief ministers Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy, with the both of them blaming each other for the collapse of the Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka.
The former coalition partners will contest the by-elections, which will be held on October 21, independently.
"Kumaraswamy does not speak with sense. GT Devegowda who is JD(S) MLA and was minister in his cabinet has recently said that Kumaraswamy had asked him to get votes transferred to BJP candidates in Mysuru and Chamarajanagra (during Lok Sabha polls)," news agency PTI quoted Siddaramaiah as telling reporters in Hubballi.
"Now he (Kumaraswamy) is playing drama... because by-elections have come he is into theatrics," he added.
Mr Siddaramaiah was reacting to Mr Kumaraswamy's comments blaming local Congress leadership for the defeat of his father HD Deve Gowda in Tumakuru, son Nikhil Kumaraswamy in Mandya and for the defeat of Congress' own KH Muniyappa in Kolar.
Referring to a popular Kannada song in which a parrot nurtured by its owner goes on to betray him, Mr Siddaramaiah in a tweet rebuked Mr Kumaraswamy and said, "... it is my mistake. Despite having four decades of political association and experience, we believed eagle as parrot and allied with it. Will it not inflict pain? What is bigger lesson than experience?"
Mr Kumaraswamy, however, blamed Mr Siddaramaiah for the collapse of the government, alleging that the Congress leader was unable to accept the fact that the JDS leader had become the Chief Minister of the coalition government.
"I did not become Chief Minister because of Siddaramaiah, Congress high command took the decision. But Siddaramaiah could not tolerate their decision, or else this government would not have gone," Mr Kumaraswamy said in Chennapatna.
Mr Kumaraswamy also hit back at Mr Siddaramaiah for his tweet and said that the senior Congress leaders along with others had betrayed HD Deve Gowda who "nurtured them politically".
"What was the reason for the collapse of the government, don't I know what all happened. I'm not a parrot nurtured by Siddaramaiah, people of Ramanagara have nurtured me, it is because of them I have grown in state politics," he said.
After the Karnataka assembly election last year, the Congress and the JDS had stitched a post-poll alliance and formed a government. As part of the coalition agreement, the Congress had conceded the Chief Minister's chair to the JDS and HD Kumaraswamy became the Chief Minister despite his party winning only 37 seats.
In the national election, however, the Congress-JDS alliance managed to win only two seats. Within days of the debacle, sixteen MLAs of the coalition resigned. The government later collapsed after it failed a trust vote.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar disqualified 17 MLAs -- 13 from the Congress, three from the JDS and one independent-- under the anti-defection law.
Last month, Mr Deve Gowda, 86, said the Congress had been "wrong" in making his son, HD Kumaraswamy, Chief Minister without consulting Mr Siddaramaiah.