Sun. May 26th, 2024

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New Delhi:

The suspense over the next Karnataka Chief Minister continues days after the Congress received a clear mandate in the assembly polls. State Congress chief DK Shivakumar, one of the two contenders for the post, will fly to Delhi today to present his case to the party’s national leadership. Senior leader Siddaramaiah, who is also eyeing the chief minister berth, arrived in Delhi yesterday before the party announces a name.

The party’s leadership, which includes Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Rahul Gandhi, was yesterday briefed by a team of observers on the views of the newly-elected Karnataka MLAs. The team met all the winners and held a secret vote on Sunday, the results of which have reportedly been presented to the party president, who will take the final decision.

The party could announce the name of the next Karnataka Chief Minister in the coming 24 hours, party sources said.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV, DK Shivakumar said that he will not blackmail or rebel, but the party’s leadership should acknowledge who is behind the emphatic win in Karnataka.  

“Sonia Gandhi told me, ‘I have confidence in you that you will deliver Karnataka’. I am sitting here, doing my regular responsibility. You should have the basic courtesy, a bit of gratitude. They should have the courtesy to acknowledge who is behind the win,” the 61-year-old said.

“I won’t blackmail, that’s not me. Don’t perceive anything. I have my own presence of mind. I am not a child. I won’t fall in a trap,” Mr Shivakumar added.

Responding to Mr Siddaramaiah’s claim that he has the support of the MLAs, he said, “I wish him all the best.”

The party won 135 seats in the 224-member Karnataka assembly to dislodge archrival BJP from their only citadel in the south.  

But, choosing the chief minister will be an acid test for the party. In the run-up to the election, Congress was able to project a united front despite the deep divide between Mr Shivakumar and Mr Siddaramaiah. Their supporters, though, have often publicly clashed on the question of the top post.  

While Siddaramaiah is a leader with mass appeal, is popular among all sections, and has the experience of running a government of a full five-year term from 2013-18, Shivakumar has strong organisational capabilities, is considered resourceful and Congress’ troubleshooter during tough times and has the backing of the dominant Vokkaliga community, its influential seers and leaders.

A special NDTV survey in partnership with Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) has found that Siddaramaiah is the most popular choice for the post. More than 40 per cent of respondents said he would be their choice for the post.

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