DK Shivakumar, the Karnataka Congress Chief, is eyeing the top post in the state and has claimed credit for the party’s victory in the last week’s assembly election. He stated that he has the backing of 135 MLAs and under his leadership, the Congress has won 135 seats. Mr Shivakumar also took credit for rebuilding the party after the coalition government with HD Kumaraswamy collapsed, and nearly 20 MLAs left and joined the BJP.
Final Decision on Top Post Will be Taken by Party Chief Mallikarjun Kharge
The Congress leadership has been sounding out state leaders to know their preference for the top post in Karnataka. The final decision will be taken by party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, one of Congress’s tallest leaders in the state. The party had followed the same process in Punjab, replacing Amarinder Singh with Charanjit Singh Channi on the Chief Minister’s post. For Karnataka, the choice will be equally tricky as the party has projected a united front despite the deep divide between Mr Shivakumar and Mr Siddaramaiah.
Choice for Top Post Tricky: Shivakumar vs. Siddaramaiah
While Karnataka Congress Chief DK Shivakumar is known for his role as the strategist and trouble-shooter of the party, Mr Siddaramaiah is a former Chief Minister and one of the biggest mass leaders of the state. Mr Shivakumar is being investigated in several corruption cases, an impediment compared to the clean image of Mr Siddaramaiah. The former Chief Minister, however, has alienated the party’s old guard and may not have the support of the crucial Vokkaliga caste groups.
Special Survey Finds Siddaramaiah as Most Popular Choice for Top Post
A special NDTV survey in partnership with Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) has found that Mr Siddaramaiah is the most popular choice for the top post in Karnataka. More than 40 per cent people said he would be their choice for the post. Mr Siddaramaiah has said this election will be his last, in what is seen as a signal both to the party and Mr Shivakumar. KPCC general secretary and Shivakumar loyalist Milind Dharmasen told NDTV, “The Congress gave Siddaramaiah the opportunity of being the Leader of the Opposition and later the Chief Minister’s post… now what’s wrong if DK is asking for top post”.