Siddaramaiah CM of Karnataka - 3 Reasons Why
The last few days of government formation in Karnataka saw the usual round of sulks, cajoling and some hard bargaining in the process. But the process of selecting a chief minister has ended in smiles with Siddaramaiah as the chief minister, and DK Shivakumar as his deputy. The portfolios will favour both and their supporters as the victorious Congress party now prepares to deliver on its promises after a well fought election.
It was a difficult few days simply because both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar had worked hard to win these crucial elections, both bringing their strengths into the relentless campaign.
Siddaramaiah is a popular leader, recently recording 40 percent of the popular vote. He has a rapport with the masses, is able to articulate Congress ideology in popular jargon, and is a staunch secularist who has stood fearlessly for Karnataka and unity through these years. He has a strong support base.
Shivakumar is a hard worker, a good administrator, who is able to mobilise the party and mop up the votes by bringing all resources into play. He is not a people's man on the same scale as his colleague, but has fairly good support within the organisation and as he has said, has worked day and night to make a Congress victory possible. He is a good party manager, with a sense of the organisation, and the ability to make it work from the booth level upwards.
The two together made a solid team and delivered Karnataka to the Congress party by enthusing the workers and ensuring that individual leaders took on the responsibility. The campaign developed a good rapport between Siddaramaiah and Rahul Gandhi who is impressed with the former’s popularity and strong commitment to the same values he has been articulating through the Bharat Jodo Yatra and subsequently. Shivakumar has a good rapport with Sonia Gandhi, and has made it abundantly clear over the days of his admiration and respect for her.
The large numbers made it clear that no one leader could leave the party as he would need at least 25 MLAs to go with him under the anti-defection law. And even if any one leader did leave, it was apparent that his supporters in the Assembly would not leave with him at this stage.
This apart the party command was clear that both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar should be kept on board, that a solution acceptable to both equally should be implemented so that they had their clear areas demarcated as far as possible , and were able to work together with the 2024 elections in mind. This was reportedly pointed out to them by Kharge and others during the discussions.
Several proposals were discussed but in all Siddaramaiah remained the CM candidate. One with Siddaramaiah as the CM for five years and Shivakumar as party president in the state along with important portfolios. This of course did not last for too long in discussion,
Two, with both sharing the term as successive chief ministers. Here Shivakumar reportedly wanted the first shot, but has agreed to give way to Siddaramaiah. It is not clear right now whether this formula is still on the table or not, in that whether Shivakumar will follow as CM after a couple of years.
Three, to have more than one deputy Chief Ministers to represent the different communities of Karnataka. This apparently was shot down by Shivakumar who said he could agree to this provided he was the sole deputy CM.
Congress president MM Kharge has managed the negotiations with deputies KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala who together thrashed out the details of the agreement. Sonia Gandhi put her signature to it with a phone call to Shivakumar. As did Rahul Gandhi who has been overseeing the negotiations, and giving Kharge full space. Both have been on the same page and working well together, it is learnt.
Simply put, there are three key reasons why New Delhi settled for Siddaramaiah:
1. The majority of legislators supported him. Interestingly, this is not a fact that the Congress top brass is keen to play on as it does not want Shivakumar to feel belittled in any way. But it is a fact that Siddaramaiah has the popular vote within the legislature party, but also amongst the people at large.
2. Siddaramaiah impressed Rahul Gandhi with his straightforwardness, rapport with the masses and as party sources said, his “simplicity.” The Bharat Jodo Yatra was a platform to acquaint Rahul Gandhi with the party, and the state level leaders in a more intimate fashion. And while Rahul Gandhi would have supported Shivakumar if he had got the majority support, according to sources, he was able to put his weight behind Siddaramaiah as CM through all the discussions over the last few days after the election results.
3. Shivakumar has some cases against him and again,while this is not being openly said by the Congress leaders there was worry that the BJP government at the centre would use the ‘agencies’ against him as CM. Much as is being done in Delhi against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party leaders. Given the fact that anti-corruption was a major plank of the Congress with its ‘40 percent ki sarkar’ slogan resonating with the masses, there was some concern that Shivakumar as CM could attract unnecessary criticism.
Now the legislature party will meet, a formal election of Siddaramaiah will take place, and the government will be formed. This too will be slightly ticklish as there are many seniors of the Congress party who have won the elections, with many of them being former ministers. Hence ego’s and expectations will have to be delicately managed, although some discussions have taken place on this in Delhi as well.