There'll be a makeover of Congress in Karnataka, I am going to set a new agenda: KPCC chief DK Shivakumar
As soon as the All India Congress Committee's official communiqué was out announcing the appointment of former minister DK Shivakumar as the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president, party workers outside his house in upscale Sadashivanagar in Bengaluru on Wednesday afternoon were ready with crackers and life-size cutouts of their leader
'No differences with Congress Legislative Party leader Siddaramaiah'
'Keeping my confidence was the biggest challenge to me all these days'
'Seniors in the party are the roots and we need their presence'
Bengaluru: As soon as the All India Congress Committee's official communiqué was out announcing the appointment of former minister DK Shivakumar as the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president, party workers outside his house in upscale Sadashivanagar in Bengaluru on Wednesday afternoon were ready with crackers and life-size cutouts of their leader. All of them had been awaiting D-Day for around three months.
But a calm Shivakumar, who had seen deadlines being missed on the announcement, chose to attend the ongoing legislature session. In the Assembly's lounge, as Congress legislators congratulated him, he offered a red rose to former chief minister Siddaramaiah and in return got a pat on his shoulder from him. "My biggest challenge was keeping my confidence," Shivakumar said in an intervier.
Siddaramaiah and outgoing KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao had put in their papers after the party won just two of the 15 Assembly constituencies in the bypolls — the result of Congress-JD(S) MLAs resigning and bringing down the 14-month-old HD Kumaraswamy government in July 2019.
Edited excerpts from the interview follow:
Your appointment as KPCC president turned out to be a long haul. What were the challenges you faced?
My biggest challenge was keeping my confidence and the faith reposed in me by not only the party cadres, but also the common man on the street. Several surveys were conducted to find the ideal KPCC president and all surveys showed a preference for me. This gave me confidence. When observers were sent by the Congress to elicit opinion, 99 percent of them conveyed to the high command that they preferred me. It was shocking as even those who had opposed me earlier spoke in my favour. Now this challenge has turned into a responsibility and it's my duty to take everybody along together.
What is Shivakumar's USP that makes the Congress high command turn to you in difficult times?
I am a simple person and go by the party workers' aspirations. I don't have a motive and try to be the voice of the workers. This has been my USP whether I have been in power or out of it. Even when I have been deprived of power, I did not voice my displeasure.
What are the lessons the party should learn from the political developments in Madhya Pradesh?
I don't want to comment on national politics. Regarding Karnataka politics, I am going to set a new agenda, which I don't want to divulge now. There will be a makeover of the Congress in Karnataka as many things have to change.
How are the equations going to play out between former chief minister Siddaramaiah and yourself as he was not in favour of you becoming the KPCC president?
I don't have any differences with Siddaramaiah and have been a loyal worker at all times. When I was not given a minister's post, the party took care of me. I have not voiced any complaint.
As a former KPCC working president, which did not work out well both for you and the then president over sharing of power, how are you going to manage now?
Yes, I know what it was. Now I am definitely going to share power with them. I don't consider the president's post as a reward by the high command for whatever I have done. It was my duty to do and now this is a responsibility for me to fulfil.
You have always advocated giving youth a role in politics, will this be seen in the constitution of your team?
I agree youth and women are the biggest strength in politics. I started my career in politics as a student leader. To get the fruit, one should not forget the roots. The seniors in the party are the roots for the fruit and we need their presence as well.
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