Race for Karnataka CM: DKS seeks justice, senior Sidda wants last shot

Intense battle shifts from Karnataka to Delhi, decision rests with Kharge and the Gandhis

BENGALURU | Updated: 15 May, 2023 12:58 pm IST
Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar (left) celebrated his birthday with Siddaramaiah on May 15.

BENGALURU:

Following a sweeping victory over the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly Elections, the Congress finds itself embroiled in a dilemma as a fierce tussle for the CM’s chair unfolds, with both all-weather loyalist DK Shivakumar and heavyweight Siddaramaiah eyeing the top post.

The Congress leadership is holding back-to-back meetings to finalise whether to give a chance to its Karnataka victory hero DK Shivakumar or stick with seasoned Siddaramaiah to deliver on its poll promises even though it projects ‘everything is fine’ narrative.

The first Congress legislature party meeting at Bengaluru’s Shangri-La hotel concluded without a decision, leaving the two major aspirants, former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar, determined to claim the coveted position.

While sources indicate that Siddaramaiah is the front-runner, supporters of DK Shivakumar are rallying behind him, vociferously advocating for his appointment as CM citing his fresh energy and leadership vision.

On Sunday evening, the Karnataka CLP unanimously passed a resolution, authorizing Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge to designate the new state head. The central party leadership has appointed former Maharashtra CM Sushil Kumar Shinde, former general secretary Deepak Bawaria, and current general secretary Bhanwar Jitendra Singh as observers to identify the perfect candidate for this crucial role.

Observers engaged in one-on-one discussions with all MLAs to gauge their support, followed by a secret ballot to collect opinions. The observer’s report will be presented to the Congress high command, and the ballot box will be taken to the party headquarters in Delhi, where it will be opened in the presence of Kharge for vote counting.

The identity of the candidate with the highest number of votes will be kept confidential, Congress leaders say.

Both Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar have been summoned to Delhi for discussions and finalization, with Siddaramaiah expected to arrive by 4 PM, while DK Shivakumar’s availability remains uncertain.

Shivakumar, aged 60, is considered the Congress troubleshooter, credited for leading the party to this significant victory in Karnataka. Siddaramaiah, aged 75, has repeatedly emphasized that this would be his final electoral contest, hoping that the Congress will consider his plea while making the final decision.

Congress leaders MB Patil and G Parameshwara are also considered in the CM race.

Congress emerged victorious in Karnataka, securing 136 seats in the 224-member Assembly polls. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured 65 seats, while Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) won 19 seats. Additionally, two independent candidates, as well as Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha and Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha, each secured one seat in the Karnataka elections.

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