Bengaluru: In an attempt to project Siddaramaiah as the Congress’s Chief Ministerial candidate in Karnataka for the 2023 Assembly polls, his loyalists are planning a month-long programme in August when he turns 75, even as State Congress chief D K Shivakumar’s side asserted collective leadership and said anyone can become the Chief Minister.
The voice of assertion from Shivakumar’s camp this time came from his brother and Bengaluru Rural MP D K Suresh.
This is seen as another round in the game of one-upmanship between the two leaders, who have been nursing Chief Ministerial ambitions and also want to consolidate their clout within the party.
The development comes even as Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah were in Delhi discussing the party’s preparedness and campaign strategy for the polls with party’s national leader Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi, along with general secretaries K C Venugopal and Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Karnataka Cong a 'united house'; party will fight polls under 'collective leadership':D K Shivakumar
According to sources, Siddaramaiah’s supporters and wellwishers, including senior Congress leaders and former Ministers like R V Deshpande and H C Mahadevappa, have planned a massive convention at the district headquarters town of Davangere on August 3, which is also being seen as a show of strength by the former Chief Minister’s camp.
Also, ‘Siddaramotsava’ will be organised in every district and Assembly constituency till September 3 to project Siddaramaiah and his contributions, which are being seen as an attempt to send a message to the high command and detractors within the party, ahead of polls, while consolidating his ‘minority, backward classes and Dalits’ (AHINDA) votebase.
Mahadevappa said it is only a ”thought” among Siddaramaiah’s wellwishers and supporters as of now, and no decision has been taken yet.
”…it will be decided after consulting him. Siddaramaiah has worked as a political statesman, a cultural leader, a socialist, also his pro-people work and stands while in the government…we want to place it before the people to inform them, along with strengthening the Congress party,” he said.
Stating that the attempt is to amalgamate both the forces — Siddaramaiah and the Congress — and go before the people to bring the party back to power, he said this effort would happen through Congress, while programmes given by Siddaramaiah would in fact add more power to it.
”In this backdrop, Siddaramaiah’s supporters, friends, wellwisher together want to celebrate as he completes 75 years of age. He had never celebrated birthday (personally). So we want to organise an event projecting his political journey, fight, administration and pro-people stand aimed at creating awareness among people,” he added, while appreciating the leader’s strong leadership against communalism and fundamentalism.
Siddaramaiah, who was chief minister between 2013-2018 and declared that 2023 will be his last election, is nursing his ambition for a second term in office, if the party wins the next Assembly polls.
His supporters have openly and repeatedly tried to project Siddaramaiah as ”next CM” at party meetings, drawing ire from other senior leaders, including Shivakumar.
Ten years ago in 2012, Siddaramaiah, ahead of 2013 Assembly polls following which he went on to become Chief Minister, had celebrated his 65th birthday on a grand scale.
Meanwhile, echoing Shivakumar’s recent statement, his brother Suresh today asserted that Congress will go for polls under a collective leadership.
”Everyone has the desire to become Chief Minister…There are senior legislators like Ramalinga Reddy who has won seven times, also R V Deshpande, Mallikarjun Kharge, G Parameshwara, M B Patil, who are aspirants,” he said.
Further noting that Siddaramaiah has been CLP leader for the last ten years and was Chief Minister once, so some want him to become Chief Minister once again, he said, adding that, ”anyone can become CM…D K Shivakumar is also there as the party president.” Suresh’s statement is seen as a message to Siddaramaiah and loyalists that his road to the post will not be easy.
KPCC’s longest serving president G Parameshwara, who had raised the demand for ‘Dalit CM’ in the past, had recently supported the call for collective leadership.