The tension over the next Chief Minister of Karnataka continues for days after the congress has received a clear mandate in the polls. DK Shivakumar, head of the State Congress, one of the two contenders for the post, is flying to Delhi today to present his case to the party’s national leadership. Senior leader Siddaramaiah, who is also eyeing the prime minister’s berth, arrived in Delhi yesterday before the party made its final announcement.
Before leaving for Delhi, Mr. Shivakumar told reporters that he is where he is today thanks to Congress. “Without the party, everyone is zero,” he said.
The leadership of the party including Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi were briefed yesterday by a team of observers on the views of the newly elected Karnataka MLAs. The team met all the winners and held a secret ballot on Sunday, the results of which are reportedly presented to the party chairman, who will make the final decision.
The party could announce the name of the next Karnataka Chief Minister in the next 24 hours, party sources said.
In an exclusive interview with DailyExpertNews, DK Shivakumar said that he will not blackmail or rebel but that the leadership of the party should recognize who is behind the emphatic victory in Karnataka.
“Sonia Gandhi said to me, ‘I have every confidence that you will liberate Karnataka’. I sit here and do my normal responsibility. You should have the basic courtesy, a little gratitude. They should have the courtesy to recognize who is behind the win,” said the 61-year-old.
“I will not blackmail, I am not. Do not observe anything. I have my own presence of mind. I am not a child. I will not fall into the trap,” Mr. Shivakumar added.
In response to Mr Siddaramaiah’s claim that he has the support of the MLAs, he said: “I wish him all the best.”
The party won 135 seats in Karnataka’s 224-member assembly to evict arch-rival BJP from their only citadel in the south.
But choosing the prime minister will be a severe test for the party. In the run-up to the election, Congress managed to form a united front despite the deep rift between Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah. However, their supporters have often clashed publicly over the issue of the top post.
While Siddaramaiah is a leader with mass appeal, popular among all echelons and has the experience of leading a government of a full five-year term from 2013-18, Shivakumar has strong organizational capabilities, is regarded as resourceful and the problem solver of Congress during difficult times and has the support of the dominant Vokkaliga community, its influential seers and leaders.
A special DailyExpertNews survey in conjunction with Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) found Siddaramaiah to be the most popular choice for the post. More than 40 percent of respondents said he would be their choice for the position.