Karnataka CM: MLAs’ opinion taken, secret ballot done, all eyes on Cong top brass

While Siddaramaiah is expected to be in Delhi by Monday evening, KPCC chief DK Shivakumar is likely to follow him later in the night

Karnataka-Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar
Siddaramaiah is a leader with mass appeal, while Shivakumar has strong organisational skills and is considered resourceful

All eyes are now on the Congress central leadership that has the unenviable task of picking the new Karnataka chief minister, for which the party has come up with a formula. Even as intense lobbying continues for Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar by their respective camps, the party high command is relying on intensive consultations with the duo, opinions of the new MLAs, and a secret ballot.

The Congress won a stupendous victory in the May 10 Karnataka assembly polls. But the top brass must tread very carefully to satisfy the two rival camps within the party. They have invited both the leaders to Delhi for further consultations on government formation in the state.

While former chief minister Siddaramaiah is expected to be in the national capital by Monday (May 15) evening, KPCC chief Shivakumar is likely to follow him later in the night.

Observers to submit report

Party president Mallikarjun Kharge had also deputed three central observers to Karnataka to speak to the newly elected MLAs individually. The observers were former Maharashtra CM Sushilkumar Shinde, party general secretary Jitendra Singh, and former AICC general secretary Deepak Babaria.

The trio has returned to Delhi along with AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, Randeep Singh Surjewala, and will meet Kharge later in the evening. They spoke to all the newly elected MLAs individually after dinner at a private hotel on Sunday night. They will put together a report based on the feedback and hand it over to Kharge by late Monday night, sources told PTI.

Senior party leader BK Hariprasad said the MLAs were asked for their open feedback on their choice of chief minister during their interaction with the observers, and a secret ballot was also held for the CM’s name. The observers have taken the ballot boxes to Delhi along with them.

Kharge is likely to decide who will be the next chief minister of Karnataka soon. He is also likely to hold consultations with the top Congress leadership, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, before arriving at a decision.

Two Congress colossuses

During the first meeting of the Congress Legislature Party since the poll win, supporters of both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar raised slogans projecting them as the next chief minister outside the venue on Sunday evening. A poster war by supporters of both leaders also erupted soon after the party won the election. The CLP passed a resolution authorising the party chief to pick the CM.

Siddaramaiah is a leader with mass appeal. He is popular among all sections of society and has the experience of running a government for the full five-year term in 2013-18. Shivakumar, on the other hand, has strong organisational skills and is considered resourceful. He has proved to be a Congress trouble-shooter in tough times and has the backing of the dominant Vokkaliga community, its influential seers, and leaders.

Meanwhile, the party is also gearing up to make the chief minister’s swearing-in ceremony a big show of strength, where several Opposition leaders will be invited.

(With agency inputs)