new delhi, May 16
Three days after the Congress recorded a landslide win in the Karnataka Assembly elections, suspense over the Chief Minister’s post continued on Tuesday with party president Mallikarjun Kharge’s meetings with the two contenders — former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and state unit president DK Shivakumar — ending inconclusively.
The day saw hectic activity in the Congress camp after Shivakumar, a senior Vokkaliga leader, virtually staked claim to the top post saying the “party is his mother and a mother will give everything to her child”.
Congress in huddle to work out possibilities
We have built this party (Congress), we have built this house. I am a part of it...A mother will give everything to her child…. If the party wants, it can give me the responsibility... — DK Shivakumar, Karnataka Congress chief
Although Siddaramaiah has been in the Capital since yesterday, Shivakumar had cancelled his Monday visit, citing health reasons.
He finally arrived today. Although the Karnataka Congress chief categorically denied possibilities of resigning in the event of losing out in the CM’s race, Shivakumar is learnt to have told the party leadership that he would “work as an ordinary MLA if not picked as CM”.
- Moments after DK Shivakumar met Mallikarjun Kharge, ex-CM Siddaramaiah also met the party chief on Tuesday
- Formulas are being discussed to placate both sides, with the division of CM’s term among easy options on the table
Muscle-flexing by both sides has forced the Congress into a huddle with Kharge meeting Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal and AICC general secretary, Karnataka, Randeep Surjewala earlier today.
Formulas are being discussed to placate both sides, with the division of CM’s term among easy options on the table.
Shivakumar, however, has voiced his intention of staying away from the “tenure division” tactics, saying that the CM’s tenure “is not ancestral property that can be divided and shared”.
Congress sources said more meetings could be held for a solution. Party spokesperson Pawan Khera announced that the decision on the CM “could be announced in a day or two”. Earlier today, Shivakumar held a half-hour meeting with Kharge and left without speaking to the media. Later, Siddharamaiah met the Congress chief.
Before leaving for Delhi today, Shivakumar had said in Bengaluru, “If the party wants, they can give me the responsibility... Ours is a united house, our number is 135. I don’t want to divide anyone here. Whether they like me or not, I am a responsible man. I will not backstab and I will not blackmail.”
Siddaramaiah, in contrast, has been flaunting the support of MLAs. These MLAs followed Siddaramaiah to Kharge’s house today but the meeting between the Congress chief and Siddharamaiah was one-on-one. Kharge also met the three central observers on the issue. Importantly, the logjam over the post of the CM has prompted other hopefuls also to stake their claim. G Parameshwara, former KPCC chief and a senior Dalit leader, on Tuesday said he was ready to take up the responsibility if the party high command asked him.
The All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, an influential Lingayat group, too staked claim to the CM’s post, saying 34 of the 46 Lingayats fielded by the party had won.
Meanwhile, AICC Media Cell chief Pawan Khera said: “Appointing a CM is not an easy thing. It cannot be imposed from Delhi.... Everybody’s view has to be taken into consideration. We have to engage with every stakeholder and then decide who the CM will be.”
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