Shivakumar or Siddaramaiah? Who will be Karnataka’s new Boss ?

BANGALURU: The new Karnataka Chief Minister and the cabinet will take oath on Thursday, sources said. The Gandhis and national Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge will attend the event. The Congress has sent invitations to all “like-minded” parties to attend the oath-taking event. The final contours of the Karnataka cabinet will take shape in a day or two, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The BJP has been voted out of power in Karnataka, its only bastion in the south until yesterday, when the Congress took 135 seats in the 224-member house. The BJP won only 66 seats, down from 104 in the 2018 state election. It did not win a single seat reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST) category. Karnataka has 51 reserved constituencies, out of which 36 are for Scheduled Castes (SC) candidates and 15 for ST candidates.

The Congress called a meeting of its MLAs today to discuss who would be the Chief Minister. The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) is expected to pass a resolution leaving it to the Congress national president to decide the Chief Minister pick. No final decision will be taken today, but the views of all MLAs will be ascertained, sources said.Congress General Secretaries Sushil Kumar Shinde, Deepak Babaria and Jitendra Singh Alwar are the observers of the Karnataka CLP meeting. With Congress on Saturday making a stunning comeback in Karnataka to oust the BJP from its lone southern citadel, the focus has shifted to the next CM candidate. It remains to be seen if it will be the astute veteran Siddaramaiah or the loyal general DK Shivakumar. A day after the Congress romped to victory in the Karnataka Assembly elections, the party’s state unit president D K Shivakumar on Sunday hinted that he is in the chief ministerial race saying he took everyone along and never sought anything for himself. He also brushed aside speculations about differences between him and former chief minister Siddaramaiah.

Congress leaders DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah have expressed interest for the top post, raising concerns over a stand-off if the matter is not resolved. On the question that those who toiled should also get preference instead of those who are liked by the people, Shivakumar said when Siddaramaiah and Dinesh Gundu Rao had resigned as the Congress Legislature Party president and head of the state unit respectively after the party’s rout in 2019 by-elections, then Congress national president Sonia Gandhi had reposed faith in him and made him president.
Siddaramaiah had served as the Chief Minister of Karnataka for five years from 2013 to 2018, and many in the party as well as beyond it perceive him as the next logical option. But President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee DK Shivakumar is a Congress loyalist, and the Gandhi family is known to favour loyalists.
To most Siddaramaiah could be the most obvious choice, but the Gandhi family, especially Rahul Gandhi sees the veteran politician as the perfect choice to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Siddaramaiah also said that this would be his last chief ministerial election. Siddaramaiah’s supporters have put up a poster outside his home in Bengaluru, referring to him as “the next Chief Minister of Karnataka”. Posters also came up outside Mr Shivakumar’s house, wishing “birthday greetings” to “the new Chief Minister of Karnataka”. His birthday is tomorrow. The scale of the Congress win is a record in terms of both seats and vote share in over 30 years. The party won 135 seats – 55 more than in 2018 – with a vote share of 42.88 per cent. The closest the Congress came to this score was in 1999 when it won 132 seats and had a vote share of 40.84 per cent. In 1989, it won 178 seats with a vote share of 43.76 per cent.
(Bureau Report )



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