While Siddaramaiah is hoping for another term, Energy Minister DK Shivakumar and KPCC President G Parameshwara are also in the race for CM.

As Karnataka election approaches fissures in Congress camp over who will get CM post
news Politics Friday, January 19, 2018 - 15:55

As the Karnataka Assembly polls draw close, fissures seem to have appeared among the state Congress heavyweights.

With four candidates in the Congress vying for the post of Chief Minister this time, party sources say that the differences have grown between CM Siddaramaiah and Energy Minister DK Shivakumar.

“Everyone in the party knows that it is highly unlikely for DK Shivakumar to be chosen as the CM candidate. His power does not extend beyond Ramanagara and Kanakapura. DK Shivakumar will be easily defeated in Mandya and North Karnataka districts,” party insiders say.

Speaking to TNM, a senior Congress leader says that DK Shivakumar had floated the idea of standing for the Chief Ministerial post to test the waters.

“DK Shivakumar has floated this idea of him being the contender to see how much support he gathers. He has never denied the aspiration of being the Chief Minister,” the leader adds. Explaining the reason for the differences between the two, the source said that when the DK Shivakumar was made Energy Minister in 2014, Siddaramaiah had promised to support his candidature for CM following his term.  

However, he says that Siddaramaih has now reneged on his promise to support Shivakumar following the Income Tax Department raids at his residence and several of his properties in Bengaluru in August last year.

“Shivakumar is the money-and-muscle-power guy for the Congress. He is very good at power management like how he ferried in the Gujarat Congress MLAs. Another reason why he can never be a major contender is because he does not take advise from fellow leaders. He believes that his word is the final one, which will not sit well for a CM,” the Congress leader says.

If not DK Shivakumar, who are the other major contenders?

According to Congress sources, Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Dr G Parameshwara and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge are the major contenders for the post.

“Just like DK Shivakumar is testing the waters, even Parameshwara is by pushing the cause of a Dalit CM. If the Congress wins, then it is one of these three leaders. If the Congress manages to win a majority all by itself it is highly likely that Siddaramaiah will be chosen. That is because he is a mass leader. He can attract people from all castes and religions. He has managed to break into several BJP bastions so he may be the choice,” a party functionary told TNM.

The JD(S) factor

The party is also looking into the possibility of forming a coalition with the JD(S) if none of the parties get a majority.

“It is very evident that the JD(S) will not side with the BJP. This is mostly because in case of a BJP-JD(S) coalition, the JD(S) leaders apart from Kumaraswamy will be sidelined and they will not get any major portfolios. If there is no option, it is likely that Congress will partner with JD(S),” the Congress functionary adds.

He says that if the situation of forming a coalition with JD(S) arrives, then the most likely candidate for CM will be KPCC President Dr G Parameshwara.

“The JD(S) will not agree to Siddaramaiah being the Chief Minister because he is extremely powerful. They will go for Parameshwara because that way, both Congress and JD(S) will get to say that they chose a Dalit CM candidate and manage to win over the community also. This is a solution for the long term. If Parameshwara is chosen as the candidate in this situation, then both JD(S) and Congress heavyweights will be satisfied and they will be given a ministerial berth,” the Congress leader said.

He says that although Kharge is a strong contender, he is unlikely to be selected as the high command wants him to continue as the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.