Hectic parleys were held on Wednesday to break the deadlock in deciding on the Congress’ chief ministerial pick in Karnataka with both the hopefuls Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar presenting their cases before the top brass even as the party asserted an outcome is likely within a day or two.
After the multiple rounds of discussions, AICC general secretary in-charge for Karnataka Randeep Surjewala said a decision on the new cabinet will be in place in the next 48-72 hours.
He also claimed that Karnataka will have a five-year-long stable government of the Congress and urged people not to believe in speculation and “fake news”, which he alleged was being peddled by the BJP.
Later in a tweet, Surjewala said all Congress leaders have been advised not to issue statements on the leadership matter. “Any out of turn remarks made from here onwards will be treated as indiscipline and action taken accordingly.” Siddaramaiah and state Congress chief Shivakumar have held several parleys with senior Congress leadership and presented their respective cases before them.
Siddaramaiah is considered the front-runner while Shivakumar has dug his heels for the top post claiming that the assembly elections were won under his presidentship and that he has worked hard for ensuring this victory.
A section of the top Congress leadership feels Siddaramaiah’s popularity among several sections including the poor, OBCs and minorities can get votes for the party in the Lok Sabha elections.
Addressing the media outside Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s 10 Rajaji Marg residence, Surjewala said the party chief has been authorised to appoint the leader of the legislature party and that is why deliberations are underway.
“It (the decision to name the CM) is a matter of today and tomorrow and we will have a leader of the legislature party. Within the next 48 to 72 hours, we will have a new cabinet in Karnataka and in the first cabinet meeting, we will implement the five Congress guarantees and begin the work of building grand Karnataka,” Surjewala said.
Asserting that the Congress is committed to the state’s peace, progress and harmony, he said, “The Congress president believes in three principles — consensus, unanimity and unity. Mallikarjun Kharge, who has been authorised by the legislature party, will announce (the name of the leader) after holding due deliberations.” Urging the media not to resort to speculation, he said whenever a decision is taken by the Congress president, we will be happy to inform you.
“I am only here to quash multiple rumours and hearsay…that are being played on multiple news channels. Please don’t believe in it,” Surjewala said.
“Stop listening to rumours being planted by the BJP which is frustrated by the decisive defeat in Karnataka. The Congress is committed to the welfare of each Kannadiga, the Congress is committed to fulfilling its five guarantees, the Congress is committed to implementing its agenda. The Congress is committed to giving a clean, transparent and responsible government,” he said.
After several meetings on Monday and Tuesday, the day started with both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar meeting Rahul Gandhi separately at his 10, Janpath residence in the morning.
The meetings came a day after the two held separate meetings with Kharge at his residence and discussed issues regarding the government formation.
Shivakumar met Rahul Gandhi after Siddaramaiah and the two leaders spent over 30-minutes each with the former party chief.
He is also learnt to have talked on the phone to former party chief Sonia Gandhi, who is learnt to have told him to meet Kharge, the sources said.
The Karnataka PCC chief then met Kharge again and spent a good half an hour with him for the second day in a row.
Surjewala was also present at Kharge’s residence at the time.
One of the central observers for the Karnataka Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting Sushilkumar Shinde also met the Congress president separately at his residence.
Some Congress legislators also met the Congress president while presenting their case for a ministerial berth in the new cabinet in Karnataka.
The newly-elected Congress MLAs in Karnataka had during the CLP meeting on Sunday authorised Kharge to appoint the new CLP leader.
While the supporters of both leaders are pitching for their respective leaders, the Congress is working on a power-sharing formula to accommodate all sections.
The Congress has held a series of meetings on who will be the chief minister of the state after the party staged a stunning victory in the assembly elections, winning 135 of out 224 seats.
The Congress has also hit out at the BJP for criticising it over the delay in deciding the chief minister of Karnataka, and cited examples when the BJP declared its chief ministers in Uttar Pradesh and Assam several days after winning the polls.
Meanwhile, supporters of both the leaders are also pitching for their respective leaders and the Congress is working on a power-sharing formula to accommodate all sections.
Even though efforts were on to choose the new chief minister, there were celebrations in the native village of Siddaramaiah and outside his Bengaluru residence on Wednesday amid reports in a section of the media that claimed that his name has been finalised for the post. Earlier, Siddaramaiah’s supporters who had gathered near official residence of the outgoing leader of opposition in the assembly in Bengaluru, were jubilant, as some media outlets claimed that his name had been finalised and only an official announcement was awaited.
Holding pictures of their leader they shouted slogans praising Siddaramaiah, and poured milk on the life size cut out of the former CM that has been put up in front of his residence here.
Similar scenes were witnessed in his home district of Mysuru, and native village of Siddaramanahundi. His followers and well-wishers set off crackers, danced, distributed sweets and celebrated by pouring milk on his huge cutouts erected on the roadside.
Meanwhile, preparations were underway at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in the heart of Bengaluru, for the swearing in ceremony of the new (yet-to-be-finalised) chief minister-designate, with officials inspecting the venue.