Bengaluru: After a four-day wait, Karnataka continues to await for the decision on its next Chief Minister with bated breath. AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge is expected to make announcement this evening.
However, according to sources, Siddharamaiah would be the CM as we went to the Press.
The two main contenders are Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President D.K. Shivakumar and former CM and Leader of Opposition Siddharamaiah. Even as reports say that Siddharamaiah is making it to the top post according to TV and social media, there is no official confirmation till we went to press. According to the report the announcement will be made at 6 pm today.
While Siddharamaiah has most of the MLAs rallying behind him, Shivakumar has refused to negotiate on his demand. He has reportedly disagreed on splitting the tenure of the CM’s post. He also refused to become Deputy Chief Minister. He has told the high command that if he is denied the CM’s post, he would remain as an ‘ordinary MLA’ for five years.
Top Congress leadership are holding talks at the residence of party President Mallikarjun Kharge. Former party Chief Rahul Gandhi too met Kharge and held closed-door talks. Digging his heels in, Shivakumar told central leaders that Siddharamaiah, while Leader of the Opposition and while Chief Minister, had held his personal interests above that of the party’s.
Several fake messages are doing the rounds on social media and prominent among them is a purported invitation from the Governor’s office for the swearing-in ceremony. Sources said that the letter was fake and the Governor is authorised to send an invite only after the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) selects its leader.
With Siddharamaiah taking the lead in the CM race, his supporters were seen raising slogans outside his residence in Bengaluru. Even in Delhi, supporters of Siddharamaiah were seen flashing the victory sign while Shivakumar’s supporters not ready to compromise and getting into a combative mode.
Holding posters and banners, Shivakumar’s supporters have assembled in front of Kharge’s and Rahul’s residence, lobbying for their leader. On their part, supporters of Siddharamaiah were pouring milk on his posters in Bengaluru and Mysuru.
Rahul Gandhi’s back-to-back meetings with Shivakumar and Siddharamaiah are being seen as ones that would work out an acceptable formula to both sides. Siddharamaiah is said to be the high command’s choice as he has the support of majority MLAs.
But before a final announcement is made — likely to be in Bengaluru at the Congress Legislature Party meeting — the high command will have to ensure that Shivakumar is on board as he is seen as the leader who revived the Congress after defections and desertions.
Even former Congress President Sonia Gandhi spoke to Shivakumar and urged him to take up the post of Deputy Chief Minister. However, sources said that he politely declined the offer following which she asked him to continue as KPCC President. Sonia also told Shivakumar that the party values his contributions.
Meanwhile, the CM’s oath ceremony is likely to take place at Bengaluru’s Kanteerava Stadium tomorrow (May 18) at 5.30 pm and Police officials were seen inspecting the premises. Earlier, it was decided to hold the ceremony on the steps of Vidhana Soudha but as there is a rain forecast, the venue was shifted to Kanteerava. If the swearing-in does not take place tomorrow, it will be held on Sunday, May 21, sources added.