It has been over a month since the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Dinesh Gundu Rao and Leader of Opposition (LOP) in the Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah resigned from their posts. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) is all set to pick new candidates for these vacant posts and both DK Shivakumar, who is aspiring for the KPCC President’s post and Siddaramaiah for the LOP post have been summoned to New Delhi. The AICC is slated to hold a meeting on Tuesday, where a decision is expected to be made.
The fight for the KPCC President is one between DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah. Siddaramaiah wants one of his confidantes to head the party in Karnataka while aspiring to be nominated as the LOP once more in order to retain his power within the party. If DK Shivakumar is picked for the KPCC President's post, Siddaramaiah's power would wane considerably as he would be the one, who would have to be in Shivakumar's good books if both Siddaramaiah and his son are to remain powerful within the party.
Congress sources close to DK Shivakumar say that he is the favoured candidate by several leaders in New Delhi including Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath, who are close confidantes of AICC interim President Sonia Gandhi.
However, Congress insiders say that Siddaramaiah’s choice of candidate is being back by Rahul Gandhi and KC Venugopal. Siddaramaiah’s detractors have been lobbying with the Congress high command to curb the former Chief Minister’s power in order to “build the party up to scratch”. Senior Congress leaders BK Hariprasad and Ramalinga Reddy have opposed Siddaramaiah’s choice of candidate stating that his leadership drove the Congress in Karnataka to lose multiple elections within a span if two years.
Sources close to Siddaramaiah say that competing for the KPCC President post is Byatarayanapura MLA and a please-all candidate Krishna Byre Gowda. In addition, two of Siddaramaiah’s supporters, MB Patil and Satish Jarkiholi are also aspirants for KPCC chief.
The Congress high command had sent Shivakumar’s proposal to become the KPCC chief to its legal experts as he has been mired in several controversies. Shivakumar’s candidature will be decided based on the legal team’s report on whether he is a suitable candidate, the source added.
Congress insiders say that if a situation arises where Shivakumar is not appointed the KPCC Chief, the party is likely to settle on Krishna Byre Gowda. Liked by members of both Siddaramaiah’s and DK Shivakumar’s camp, party sources believe Byre Gowda to be an able candidate, with necessary decision-making and leadership skills to lead the party.
“He is a young candidate. He has not been mired in scams and scandals. Leaders from all political parties maintain a cordial relationship with him. He is a clean candidate,” the source said.
With both DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah in New Delhi, sources say that these two leaders are likely to be made the KPCC President and Leader of Opposition respectively. “There is too much opposition for Siddaramaiah’s candidature. If he ends up being the LOP, then Shivakumar’s camp is demanding that HK Patil or Krishna Byre Gowda be the Deputy LOP. HK Patil and Dr G Parameshwara are also aspirants for the post of LOP,” the source said.
However, if the leaders fail to come to a consensus on Tuesday’s meeting, the decision is likely to be delayed for another fortnight, the source added.