As we reported earlier today (May 18), veteran Congress leader Siddaramaiah has been picked as Karnataka Chief Minister.
Ending the stalemate over the appointment, the party high command on Thursday (May 18) picked Siddaramaiah for the post, dashing the chief ministerial ambitions of his rival DK Shivakumar, the Karnataka Congress president, who had played a major role in ensuring the party’s victory in last week’s elections.
Siddaramaiah will be sworn in on Saturday (May 20). Interestingly, Shivakumar has been made the deputy chief minister. Shivakumar will also continue as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president.
Also read: Karnataka: Siddaramaiah behind toppling govt in 2019, alleges Sudhakar
“Siddaramaiah will be the Chief Minister of Karnataka and DK Shivakumar will be the only one deputy CM,” KC Venugopal, Congress General Secretary – Organisation, announced at a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon.
On Thursday evening, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting will be held in Bengaluru to formally elect the CLP leader, Venugopal said.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Karnataka, Randeep Surjewala, who was also present at the press briefing, said, “The victory in Karnataka isn’t a victory for the Congress but a victory for 6.5 crore Kannadigas. It is a defeat of those who want to bulldoze democracy, subvert Constitution… Rahul Gandhi started the campaign with his Bharat Jodo Yatra and then Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar and all our Karnataka leaders took this forward with their campaign.”
Also read: Karnataka win a morale booster; Congress’ real challenge is to rebuild democracy
“The Congress president spent an entire month campaigning extensively and monitoring the campaign. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi campaigned extensively. Every single Congress member contributed to the victory. This victory is a collective victory of the Congress,” he added.
Surjewala said the party had “extensive” discussions to pick the CM. “Many of our friends in the media complained that we took a lot of time but we are a democratic party that believes in building consensus. We had extensive discussions. Both our leaders are equally suited for the CM’s post but only one person can become the CM. The Congress president decided that Siddaramaiah will be the CM and Shivakumar will work with him shoulder to shoulder as the deputy CM.”
In many parts of the state, supporters of Siddaramaiah have started celebrating their leader’s return to the CM saddle.
Also read: Celebrations break out outside Siddaramaiah’s Bangalore home
Siddaramaiah, 75, was the Congress chief minister of Karnataka from 2013-2018. Originally a part of Janata Dal (Secular), he joined the Congress in 2008 after being expelled from the JD(S) because he clashed with HD Deve Gowda, the former prime minister and senior party leader.
He won his first Assembly election in 1983, and became the deputy chief minister of Karnataka in the Janata Dal government in 1994.
A mass leader with influence all over Karnataka, Siddaramaiah has a strong support base with his AHINDA caste/community formula, and was known for his good governance, taking care of all sections of society, irrespective of caste, creed, or community.
Shivakumar, on the other hand, has always been a Congressman, since his first assembly election victory in 1989. He is reported to be one of the wealthiest politicians in Karnataka.
The Vokkaliga strongman has been Congress’ favourite trouble-shooter in Karnataka, and took over the reins of the Karnataka Congress in 2019 after Dinesh Gundu Rao resigned as Karnataka Congress president.
It was a period of crisis for the Congress, with the fall of the coalition government between the Congress and the JD(S) after the defection of MLAs from both parties to the BJP, who subsequently formed the government and ruled the state for the past four years.
Despite being slapped with several corruption cases over the past few years and even being arrested, Shivakumar has managed to lead the Congress party to power with his hard work and organisational skills. He is known to be a loyalist of the Gandhi family and the Congress party. He became emotional a few days ago when he recalled how Sonia Gandhi visited him in jail.
Shivakumar had made his desire to be the chief minister very clear, though he said he would abide by the decision of the Congress high command, and would not “backstab or divide”.