Bengaluru, July 08:Is the personal rivalry between Deve Gowda and Siddaramaiah hitting the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka?
Gowda had publicly accused, Siddaramaiah of orchestrating the crisis in Karnataka after 13 MLAs resigned. Gowda said that the MLAs who resigned are supporters of Siddaramaiah. I know he is behind the crisis, the former prime minister also said.
The Congress is planning some structural changes. The first change that one may get to witness is party vice president Rahul Gandhi taking over as leader of the opposition a post that is held currently by senior leader Mallikarjuna Kharge.
This is a unique election for Siddaramaiah the Chief Minister of Karnataka. He is not contesting it, but still needs to win it in order to save his seat. A year back when he was selected to be the Chief Minister, a lot of eye brows were raised and many questioned how did a man five years old in the Congress grab the coveted post. However at that time all of us knew that this honeymoon was short lived and a lot would depend on how the Congress fares in the 2014 elections. What does Siddaramaiah need to do if he has to continue as the Chief Minister of Karnataka. He has to win the Congress 20 seats and sources within the Congress tell rediff.com that he is under a lot of pressure. Siddaramaiah has been going around campaigning for the Congress candidates and says at every campaign that the Modi wave is a fiction of every ones’ imagination. He does not speak much about the developmental work as there is nothing really to tom-tom about. However he does harp about the manner in which the BJP had functioned when it was in power and how he has brought everything under control to ensure a smooth administration. For Siddaramaiah to continue as the Chief Minister, the Congress needs to win anything between 17 and 20 seats and if they do the party will be satisfied that he has had his impact. Many analysts would say that the Congress has always been looking for an excuse to replace him and have someone who has been a loyalist for over 2 decades in the seat of power. This brings us to the question as to why did the Congress appoint him as CM in the first place if the whole thing was so conditional. Siddaramaiah as opposed to the claims in the media last year enjoyed the support of just 20 to 25 MLAs while the claim being made was that he had the backing of 75. Siddaramaiah had announced that he was contesting his last elections and before he went out he wanted to be the CM. He has been deputy CM when he was in the JD(S) and when he was overlooked by Deve Gowda who preferred his son to be the CM, he quit the party and joined the Congress around 5 years back. The Congress despite all these factors was not convinced that he should be the CM since he was an outsider. However what deterred the Congress from overlooking him was the fact that he was ready to create a major ruckus with his 20 odd supporters. The Congress at any cost did want this considering the fact that they had won the Karnataka elections largely due to the infighting within the previous government run by the BJP. This is what got Siddaramaiah through. Now it is battle time for him again and he has to safeguard his seat. What works in Siddaramaiah’s favour is that he will be able to polarize the minority and OBC votes thanks to his various schemes that have appeased them. There is Mallikarjuna Kharge and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Commmittee President Parameshwar eyeing the post. These two leaders have eternally been with the Congress and could be considered for the post if Siddaramaiah fails to deliver the 18 to 20 seats.
Congress leaders Siddarmaiah and G Parameshwar are likely to leave with a host of other senior leaders to meet with the high command on the issue of Chief Minister. At Delhi the leaders would decide on a date to convene a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting to elect the new leader of the party who would become Chief Minister.
Siddarmaiah is the front runner for the post, but there are efforts being made by Mallikarjuna Kharge and D KShivakumar to grab the coveted post. Congress leaders in Karnataka have maintained that they would abide by the decision of the High Command. At Delhi all the leaders would meet collectively and individually with the top leadership and take a final call on who the leader would be. They would then return to Bangalore and convene the CLP meeting to formally elect the leader.