Siddaramaiah to be next Karnataka Chief Minister, Shivakumar Dy CM; CLP meeting today

Surjewala urges people not to believe in speculation and “fake news peddled by BJP”; says new Cabinet will be chosen in 48 to 72 hours

Surjewala with Siddaramaiah and DK Shivaumar at the dinner after the CLP meeting on May 14 | Pic: Twitter/Randeep Singh Surjewala

Siddaramaiah will be the next chief minister of Karnataka and DK Shivakumar his deputy, sources said on Thursday (May 18). The official announcement will be made in Bengaluru after the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Thursday.

Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar, Congress Karnataka in-charge Randeep Surjewala, organisation general secretary KC Venugopal, other party leaders and newly elected MLAs who had been camping in Delhi for the past two days to head to Bangalore in the day and will attend the CLP meeting.

Wednesday’s developments

The stalemate over selecting the Karnataka chief minister continued on Wednesday (May 17), with hectic parleys being held and both Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar presenting their cases before the Congress top brass. The party asserted an outcome is likely within a day or two.

After multiple rounds of discussion, AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka, Randeep Surjewala, said a decision on the new Cabinet will be in place in the next 48 to 72 hours.

He also claimed that Karnataka will have a five-year stable Congress government and urged people not to believe in speculation and “fake news”, which, he alleged, was being peddled by the BJP.

In a tweet, Surjewala said all Congress leaders have been advised not to issue statements on the leadership issue. “Any out-of-turn remarks made from here onwards will be treated as indiscipline and action taken accordingly.”

Hectic parleys

Former CM Siddaramaiah and state Congress chief Shivakumar have held several parleys with the senior Congress leadership and presented their respective cases before them.

Siddaramaiah is considered the front-runner while Shivakumar has dug in his heels for the top post, claiming that the assembly elections were won under his presidentship and that he has worked hard to ensure this victory.

A section of the top Congress leadership feels Siddaramaiah’s popularity among several sections, including the poor, OBCs, and minorities, can get votes for the party in the Lok Sabha elections.

Also read: Karnataka: Congress CM race in final lap; Siddaramaiah takes clear lead

“Don’t believe in rumours”

Addressing the media outside Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s 10 Rajaji Marg residence, Surjewala said the party chief has been authorised to appoint the leader of the legislature party and that is why deliberations are underway.

“It (the decision to name the CM) is a matter of today or tomorrow, and we will have a leader of the legislature party. Within the next 48 to 72 hours, we will have a new Cabinet in Karnataka and, in the first Cabinet meeting, we will implement the five Congress guarantees and begin the work of building a grand Karnataka,” Surjewala said.

Asserting that the Congress is committed to the state’s peace, progress, and harmony, he said, “The Congress president believes in three principles — consensus, unanimity, and unity. Mallikarjun Kharge, who has been authorised by the legislature party, will announce (the name of the leader) after holding due deliberations.”

Urging the media not to resort to speculation, he said whenever the Congress president takes a decision, they would be informed. “I am only here to quash multiple rumours and hearsay…that are being played on multiple news channels. Please don’t believe in it,” Surjewala said.

“Stop listening to rumours being planted by the BJP, which is frustrated by the decisive defeat in Karnataka. The Congress is committed to the welfare of each Kannadiga; the Congress is committed to fulfilling its five guarantees; the Congress is committed to implementing its agenda. The Congress is committed to giving a clean, transparent, and responsible government,” he said.

Also read: Karnataka: ‘CM post is not ancestral property to be shared,’ says Shivakumar

Meetings with Rahul

After several meetings on Monday and Tuesday, the day started with both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar meeting Rahul Gandhi separately at his 10, Janpath residence on Wednesday morning. The meetings came a day after the two leaders held separate meetings with Kharge at his residence and discussed issues regarding the government formation.

Shivakumar met Rahul Gandhi after Siddaramaiah and the two leaders spent over 30 minutes each with the former party chief. He is also learnt to have spoken over the phone to former party chief Sonia Gandhi, who is learnt to have told her to meet Kharge, the sources said.

The KPCC chief then met Kharge again and spent a good half an hour with him for the second day in a row. Surjewala was also present at Kharge’s residence at the time.

One of the central observers for the Karnataka Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting, Sushilkumar Shinde, also met the Congress president separately at his residence.

Also read: DK Shivakumar deserves to be CM, says Cong poll stragetist who worked in Karnataka

Power-sharing formula

Some Congress legislators also met the Congress president while presenting their case for a ministerial berth in the new Cabinet. The newly-elected Congress MLAs in Karnataka had, during the CLP meeting on Sunday, authorised Kharge to appoint the new CLP leader.

While the supporters of both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar are pitching for their respective leaders, the Congress is working on a power-sharing formula to accommodate all sections. The party has held a series of meetings on who will be the chief minister of the state after the party staged a stunning victory in the assembly elections, winning 135 of 224 seats.

The Congress has also hit out at the BJP for criticising it over the delay in picking the chief minister of Karnataka, and cited examples when the BJP declared its chief ministers in Uttar Pradesh and Assam several days after winning the polls.

Also read: Disproportionate assets case: SC defers hearing on CBI plea against DKS to July 14

Premature celebrations

Even though efforts were on to choose the new chief minister, there were celebrations in the native village of Siddaramaiah and outside his Bengaluru residence on Wednesday amid reports by a section of the media that claimed that his name has been finalised for the post.

Holding pictures of their leader, they shouted slogans praising Siddaramaiah and poured milk on the life-size cut-out of the former CM put up in front of his residence.

Similar scenes were witnessed in his home district of Mysuru and native village of Siddaramanahundi. His followers and well-wishers set off crackers, danced, distributed sweets, and celebrated by pouring milk on his huge cut-outs erected on the roadside.

Meanwhile, preparations were underway at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the heart of Bengaluru for the swearing-in ceremony, with officials inspecting the venue.

(With agency inputs)