Karnataka Assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi-Bharat Jodo Yatra Karnataka
Rahul Gandhi, whose Bharat Jodo Yatra is gaining momentum while passing through Karnataka, knows very well that the infighting between the two leaders could prove costly

Rahul strives for DKS, Siddaramaiah unity; knows its crucial for Cong in Karnataka

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Success is assembly elections in Karnataka in 2023 is very important for the Congress party as it is considering the state as a testing ground for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. To achieve it, Rahul Gandhi is said to have asked party’s two tall leaders, Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar, to work together to bring back the party to power in the state.

The Congress wants to gain more numbers during parliamentary elections in Karnataka as DMK in Tamil Nadu, LDF or UDF in Kerala, and TRS in Telangana may support the party to face the BJP at the national level. The plan is to keep BJP out of power by having a cordial relationship with the state-level parties, where Congress doesn’t have a stronghold. However, Kerala is a state where LDF or UDF, whichever alliance gets more numbers in Lok Sabha elections, it will not support BJP.

Cong fancies its chances

In South India, Karnataka is the only state where Congress has a strong base. BJP is in power only because of ‘Operation Lotus’ by former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. So, if leaders unite in exposing the state BJP government, the Congress would find it easy to come again to power. If this happens, it will help the Congress during the Lok Sabha elections as resource mobilisation will be easier.

Also read: As Rahul’s yatra gathers steam in Karnataka, state BJP sharpens its attacks

The turf in Karnataka is also being considered easy for the Congress as the ruling BJP is facing scams, internal fights and struggling to find another Lingayat leader with a mass appeal like BS Yediyurappa. Also, according to sources, as per party’s own internal surveys, anti-incumbency is making things difficult for the BJP.

What the Congress needs is for former chief minister and present opposition leader Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar to present a united face during the elections. This is the biggest challenge for the state Congress as both the leaders are eyeing the chief minister’s post and this could be exploited by the BJP which is good in its strategic moves ideated by its central leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

Siddaramaiah-DKS tussle

Rahul Gandhi, whose Bharat Jodo Yatra is gaining momentum while passing through Karnataka — this is said to be mainly because of Siddaramaiah, the mass leader, and DK Shivakumar, the resource mobiliser — knows very well that the infighting between the two leaders could prove costly. He has tried several times to make the relationship between the two cordial, but the growing stature of Siddaramaiah in the state is a worrying factor for DKS to achieve his dream.

Siddaramaiah has control over party MLAs and has a strong backing of leaders. As far as DKS is concerned, Dalit leader Dr G Parameshwar and leader of opposition in the legislative council BK Hariprasad sometimes seem to be supporting him, but then the two are also contenders for the CM post. Siddaramaiah’s birthday bash also proved this. Siddaramaiah never says that he will become the CM again, his supporters always do, unlike DKS who himself gives hints of his claim to the state’s top post.

Rahul Gandhi has tried to make the bond stronger between the two leaders and made them hug during the Siddaramotsava. But the ‘hug’ did not turn out well as DKS recently commented openly against Siddaramaiah during a party office bearers meeting. However, the supporters of Siddaramaiah kept quiet strategically and did not get provoked.

This had happened when Rahul Gandhi was starting the Bharat Jodo Yatra and he was said to have been irked by this. So, when his yatra entered Karnataka through Gundlupet of Chamarajanagar district, he wanted to give a clear message to the state unit.

Rahul’s meetings

Highly placed sources in the party said that Rahul Gandhi met Siddaramaiah and DKS separately and discussed various issues, including bringing success to his Yatra and how to face the disruptive activities of opponents. The main issue he discussed with them was the coordination between the two leaders.

Rahul categorically told DKS that he shall not make a comment against Siddaramaiah in any public meeting as it will become a weapon for the BJP. He is also said to have told both the leaders to work unitedly and bring the party into power. The chief minister will be elected at the legislative party meeting with the support of majority of MLAs. This time, the party high command doesn’t have a ‘say’ in making anyone the CM, he is supposed to have said.

Also read: What’s brewing? Siddaramaiah calls on Deve Gowda, sets tongues wagging

Sources said that both the leaders have agreed to it and assured Rahul Gandhi that they will work jointly to bring the party to power. However, DKS was a bit unhappy as he doesn’t have much hold on party MLAs and leaders as Siddaramaiah has. But he knows that he can try to become the CM if the party comes to power.

Rahul Gandhi, after making the leaders hug, tried again to unite the two leaders in Gundlupet by holding hands of both the leaders and beating a drum at a welcome rally of Bharat Jodo Yatra.

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