Newly-elected Congress MLAs in Karnataka will gather on Sunday (May 14) evening to deliberate on government formation, specifically focusing on the selection of the chief minister.
Siddaramaiah, the Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly, and DK Shivakumar, the president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, are the two strong contenders for the coveted position, and the party has a tough job on its hands playing a balancing act.
In the recent May 10 elections, the Congress secured a resounding victory with 135 seats in the 224-member Assembly. The ruling BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular), led by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, secured 66 and 19 seats, respectively.
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The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting is scheduled to commence at 5.30 pm in Bengaluru, and the newly elected MLAs have already been instructed to attend the gathering.
Shivakumar, accompanied by his family, including his brother DK Suresh, a Congress MP from Bangalore Rural, paid a visit to a temple 120 km away from the state capital.
Shivakumar, widely recognized as the Congress’ key representative in the southern state, made his initial move for the chief minister’s post on Saturday evening. His supporters put up a banner outside his residence in Bengaluru demanding he be declared CM of the state.
#WATCH | Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar's supporters put up a poster outside his residence in Bengaluru, demanding DK Shivakumar to be declared as "CM" of the state. pic.twitter.com/N6hFXSntJy
— ANI (@ANI) May 14, 2023
This development occurred shortly after outgoing chief minister Basavaraj Bommai conceded defeat. Shivakumar’s bid for the coveted position signifies his aspirations to assume a leadership role within the party in the wake of the recent electoral outcome.
Shivakumar conveyed a heartfelt message stating, “I delivered Karnataka to the fold…” while expressing his gratitude. He emotionally thanked the Gandhi family, specifically acknowledging Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, and tearfully recounted being deeply inspired by Sonia Gandhi’s visit to him during his time in jail in Delhi in 2020.
In the opposing corner stands Siddaramaiah, a seasoned and experienced politician who has previously held the positions of chief minister and deputy chief minister.
#WATCH | Supporters of senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah put up a poster outside Siddaramaiah's residence in Bengaluru, referring to him as "the next CM of Karnataka." pic.twitter.com/GDLIAQFbjs
— ANI (@ANI) May 14, 2023
Regarded as the more charismatic and well-known figure within the party, Siddaramaiah may be relying on a distinct emotional appeal to regain the state’s highest position.
His supporters, too, hung a banner outside his Bengaluru residence demanding Siddaramaiah be made CM.
With his track record and popularity, he aims to leverage a unique set of sentiments to propel himself back into the top post of Karnataka.
In a significant announcement, the former chief minister declared that his ninth electoral victory would mark his swansong in politics.
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Following the election results, the former chief minister celebrated the victory as a clear mandate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and BJP chief JP Nadda.
Notably, he also specifically mentioned Rahul Gandhi, expressing his hope that the former Member of Parliament would assume the role of Prime Minister in 2024.
This statement highlights the political dynamics and alliances at play, as well as the ex-chief minister’s endorsement of Rahul Gandhi’s leadership aspirations for the upcoming national elections.
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While confirming his candidature from Varuna constituency, he had explicitly stated, “This is going to be my last… I will retire from electoral politics.” With this statement, he emphasized his decision to conclude his political career after the upcoming election, adding a sense of finality to his candidacy.
These developments further accentuate the ongoing dynamics surrounding the chief ministerial candidacy, as both leaders have strong presence and support within the party.
After holding a joint press conference with the two prominent state party leaders and expressing gratitude to the people of the state for the victory, Congress National President Mallikarjun Kharge is set to return to Delhi on Sunday afternoon. Siddaramaiah paid him a visit at his residence in the morning.
Kharge has a meeting with Sonia Gandhi and hence won’t be able to attend the key meeting in Bengaluru on Sunday. Despite his absence, the party’s commitment to implementing the welfare schemes outlined in the manifesto remains firm.
(With agency inputs)