As Congress achieves a comfortable victory in Karnataka, the looming question of who would be the next chief minister persists. The tussle seems to be between Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar, however, some also predict party chief Mallikarjun Kharge to be given the position.
The Congress party has not announced its chief ministerial candidate, and all eyes are on the Congress legislative party meeting that Siddaramaiah said will take on Sunday morning.
Siddaramaiah had served as the Chief Minister of Karnataka for five years from 2013 to 2018, and party insiders as well as poll surveys carried out by some media perceive him to be a suitable option for the next CM in line. According to reports. Siddaramaiah while a addressing public meeting said this will be his last election. After contesting these polls, he will retire from electoral politics, but not from politics.
Siddaramaiah was first elected to the Karnataka assembly in 1983. He then became Deputy Chief Minister in 1994 but as part of the Janata Dal government. Ten years later, in 2004, he was part of the Janata Dal (Secular) government, until he was expelled from the party after a tiff with its leader HD Deve Gowda. Two years later, in 2008, Siddaramaiah joined the Congress and became Chief Minister after the 2013 Karnataka elections.
To many, Siddaramaiah could be seen as an 'outsider'.
However, DK Shivakumar has always been with the Congress. He, in fact, played a very important role in keeping afloat the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition government before it collapsed in 2019 after 17 MLAs from the two parties turned to the BJP. He played the role of 'crisis manager' by moving the MLAs to Eagleton Resort, 30 km outside Bengaluru on the Mysuru highway.
He also brought back two MLAs Anand Singh and Pratap Gowda Patil who went missing after the results were declared.
Shivakumar was however also quoted as saying that he would be happy to serve under veteran Mallikarjun Kharge, triggering speculations about him being given the CM post as well.
History of controversies
While both leaders have done their fair share for the party, they are not without controversies. Siddaramaiah’s recent “corrupt Lingayat chief minister” remark triggered a row. He reportedly said, “There’s already a Lingayat chief minister (Basavaraj Bommai). He’s the root of all the corruption in the state,” in response to a question on the BJP’s stance that a Lingayat should be the next chief minister.
Bommai in response said, "I didn’t expect such a statement from Siddaramaiah about a Lingayat CM. He is a senior leader. He has given a statement that triggers the Lingayat community. It is wrong to call the Lingayat community itself corrupt. The people will teach them (Congress) a proper lesson.”
Lingayats are known to be a solid vote bank for the saffron party.
DK Shivakumar is still facing charges of corruption and spent time in Tihar jail in 2019 on charges of money laundering and tax evasion before being granted bail.
Overwhelmed with emotions, he broke down while reacting to the Assembly elections results and gave credit to the Gandhi family for reposing their faith in his leadership in the State.
"I had told Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge that we will deliver Karnataka. I can't forget Sonia Gandhi coming to meet me when the 'BJP people' had put me in jail. This is the confidence the Gandhi family, Congress and the entire country has bestowed on me," he said.