Will Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar's chief ministerial ambitions hurt Congress in Karnataka elections?
The Karnataka Congress unit is divided with one half demanding that Siddaramaiah be made chief minister again and the others lending their support to DK Shivakumar. Amid the power tussle between the two leaders, a new name has emerged — SR Patil. So, who will it be for the Grand Old Party?
The Assembly elections in Karnataka are nine months away, but the state unit of the Congress is already seeing chaos over the chief ministerial face.
The Congress is on the verge of an implosion, as its top leaders in the state indulge in a game of one-upmanship in order to occupy the chief minister’s chair in the event of the party capturing power.
The party is already divided into two camps — one group backing former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the other in favour of the party’s state president DK Shivakumar’s candidacy for the top post.
If that wasn’t enough, former Karnataka chief minister M Veerappa Moily added to the chaos by throwing in SR Patil’s name into the fray.
We take a look at the squabbling that’s taking place within the Karnataka Congress unit and how it could dash their hopes in the upcoming elections.
DK Shivakumar vs Siddaramaiah
A virtual division has been caused within the Congress’ Karnataka unit with one half demanding that Siddaramaiah be made chief minister again and the others lending their support to DK Shivakumar.
Reacting earlier to MLA BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan’s remark that the people of the state wanted Siddaramaiah to be the next chief minister, Shivakumar asked everyone to “keep their mouths shut and work to bring the party to power”.
“I will speak of only those who are of my level. Everyone should keep their mouth shut and work to bring the party to power,” Shivakumar told reporters.
When asked if the comment was directly aimed at Khan, Shivakumar, the MLA from Kanakapura constituency in Ramanagara, responded, “I am telling this to everyone. First, you bring the party to power, first draw people from all the communities to the party, and organise your community first. As a leader if you have concern for the party, stop worshipping individuals and bring people to the party.”
Shivakumar also has played the community card and has sought support of the Vokkaliga community to rally behind him.
In mid-July during a Vokkaliga convention held in Bengaluru, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress (KPCC) president was quoted as saying: “I have faced difficulties, faced them, and never troubled anyone. Your community has another opportunity after SM Krishna. I will not tell you who has that opportunity, it’s in your hands to save it and nurture it.”
The Vokkaliga community, which accounts for about 15 per cent population of Karnataka, is known to be a key support base of former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and his son H D Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal(Secular). Political observers report that there’s a growing sense that the community could back the Congress if there are chances of Shivakumar being the next chief minister.
Meanwhile, supporters of Siddaramaiah are going all out to make preparations to celebrate the latter’s 75th birthday on 3 August, showcasing his achievements as the chief minister during 2013-2018.
The event, to be held in Davangere, is being called ‘Siddaramotsava’ and is being perceived as many as a show of support for Siddaramaiah.
In fact, Siddaramaiah has made it clear that the event is as much about politics as it is about celebrating his life’s achievements.
In a report in the Indian Express, he was quoted as saying, “There will certainly be a political message (from the event), are we sanyasis? Is Rahul Gandhi or Shivakumar a sanyasi? It will be there. Isn’t listing out our achievements during our five years of tenure politics? Isn’t recalling my political journey a politics? It is there, nothing can be done without politics.”
SR Patil in the fray
Amid the ongoing tussle in the Karnataka Congress unit, a third name has emerged in the race for the top post.
Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Veerappa Moily pitched SR Patil as an ideal candidate for the 2023 Assembly elections. Praising Patil as an honest and respectful leader, Moily said that he is an able person to be an ideal chief minister.
“SR Patil is a statesman and an ideal candidate. I had suggested his name for the Karnataka Congress President post as well in the past. He is an able person to be an ideal chief minister. He has always been honest and respectful.”
In my opinion, one of the most capable Congress leaders is SR Patil. I had even recommended him to be made PCC president, he is also an ideal person to be made Karnataka CM: Congress leader & K'taka former CM, M Veerappa Moily, at Patil's birthday celebrations yesterday pic.twitter.com/d6yulwqrH0
— ANI (@ANI) August 1, 2022
Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, would also be in the reckoning for the chief minister's post.
The next Karnataka Legislative Assembly election is scheduled to be held on or before May 2023 to elect all 224 members of the state's Legislative Assembly.
With inputs from agencies
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