New Delhi, May 17 As neither of the two top contenders of the Karnataka Chief Minister’s job, Siddaramaiah and D. K. Shivakumar, backed down from their claim, the Congress on Wednesday worked on different permutations to arrive at a consensus. While the party top leaders are believed to be convinced about Siddaramaiah, they simultaneously worked to placate D. K. Shivakumar.
The Congress maintained that the final decision is likely with “the next 48-72 hours”. AICC in-charge of state Randeep Surjewala asserted that Karnataka will have a five-year-long stable government and urged people not to believe in speculation and “fake news” which it alleged was being peddled by the BJP. Addressing the media outside Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s 10 Rajaji Marg residence where hectic parleys are on to decide on the party’s chief ministerial pick Surjewala said the party chief has been authorised to appoint the leader of the legislature party and that is why deliberations are underway.
While Siddaramaiah is the front-runner owing to his clean image and political morality he represents, Congress is trying hard to calm down Shivakumar who believes he has a stronger claim because he built a strong organisation as president of the state unit.
He is believed to have turned down a power-sharing formula by the Congress high command which entailed him getting the CM’s post for three years after Siddaramaiah completes the first two years of the tenure. The experience of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where such formulae had apparently been bandied about for placating contending aspirants Sachin Pilot and T. S. Singh Deo respectively but were never quite implemented, was cited as a reason for Shivakumar rejecting the proposal as an empty placatory gesture for not awarding him the chief ministership.
While the post of Deputy CM for Shivakumar was also being talked about as a quid pro quo for letting his resentment down, it was not certain whether he has accepted it or is negotiating for more plum portfolios. He would continue to remain the president of the Congress’s state unit, a post that presumably provides him with much heft given that general elections are scheduled next year.
The Congress is also believed to be planning to have three more Deputy CMs to cater to its AHINDA caste combination which represents minorities, Dalits and Other Backward Classes. Also, it would reach out to the powerful Lingayats, a section of which drifted away from the BJP and voted for the Congress this time. Accordingly, the names being cited for these posts were Lingayat leader M. B. Patil being pitched as a Deputy CM along with G. Parmeshwara who represents the SCs and U. T. Khader, the Deputy Opposition Leader in the last assembly who has won from Mangalore for the fifth time in a row.