The last two years have been turbulent for the Congress in Karnataka, and especially so for one of its tallest leaders – former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. From being hailed as the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate to being sidelined by his own party men, Siddaramaiah’s political career took a sharp turn after the Karnataka state Assembly election results were announced in 2018.
His position within the party, insiders say, weakened considerably after the losses in the Lok Sabha elections and the bye-polls held earlier this month.
Siddaramaiah’s resignation as the Congress Legislature Party Leader was also a huge sign that his detractors within the Congress were trying to desperately win the game of one-upmanship and ensure that Siddaramaiah is kept out of power.
Amid this turbulence in the Congress, speculation began in Karnataka’s political circles that Siddaramaiah is pursuing other political avenues as his detractors in the Congress, are bent on sidelining him.
Several of Siddaramaiah’s close confidantes say that in order for Siddaramaiah to remain relevant in state politics, he is considering several options before him. Sources also say that it is not new for Siddaramaiah to orchestrate scenarios in order to have a better bargaining chip with the high command.
What are Siddaramaiah’s options?
Confidantes of Siddaramaiah allege that his meeting with the BJP leaders including rebel turned BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, was a ploy to alert the Congress high command that he is considering other options to enhance his political career. Sources close to the former Chief Minister say that he wants to create a scenario to negotiate a good deal with the high command.
Sources say that Siddaramaiah is threatening to move away from the Congress, if the high command does not allow him to retain power within the party. There is speculation that he is proposing to quit the party either to form a party of his own or join the Janata Dal (United), thereby eliminating his major opponents – the JD(S). “He is threatening to take away his loyalists and form a new party. This is a typical tactic Siddaramaiah uses when he wants to get something from the high command,” the source says. However, not many believe that he will actually move away from the Congress.
Why does Siddaramaiah want to negotiate his position in the party?
By losing his status as the most sought-after leader of the Karnataka Congress, his detractors within the party including former Deputy CM Dr G Parameshwara and former Water Resource Minister DK Shivakumar have only swooped in to claim the void that was created after Siddaramaiah resigned as the CLP leader.
Party insiders say that Siddaramaiah is being sidelined as his detractors want the high command to offer a chance to other leaders to revive the party in the state. “Since he is in a position of disadvantage, he needs to negotiate a better deal or his loyalists and his son’s political careers are at stake,” the source adds.
Sources say that DK Shivakumar is lobbying for the KPCC President’s post, which became vacant after Dinesh Gundu Rao’s resignation on December 9. DK Shivakumar and senior leaders like BK Harisprasad, Ramalinga Reddy, HK Patil and Shamnur Shivashankarappa are believed to have put their foot down and informed the high command that Siddaramaiah’s move to negotiate must not be entertained.
“Siddaramaiah wants to get the post of Leader of Opposition and ensure that his man becomes the KPCC President. DK Shivakumar and others do not want that. DK Shivakumar has been trying to assure Siddaramaiah that both he and his son Yathindra would be comfortable accommodated in the party. The high command is unlikely to agree to Siddaramaiah’s demands,” the source says.