The Congress party is in a tricky position as it tries to choose the next Chief Minister of Karnataka. Although seniority and popular narrative suggest that Siddaramaiah should be chosen, DK Sivakumar has also made a case for himself as the architect of the party’s historic victory in the state.
Following the announcement of the results, the Karnataka Congress Legislature Party passed a one-line resolution empowering national president Mallikarjun Kharge to appoint the next chief minister, taking into consideration the views of the elected MLAs. The party hopes to avoid a repeat of situations like Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan, where they either failed to retain power or lost it entirely.
Reports suggest that both leaders have been invited to Delhi for a meeting with the high command of the Congress party on May 15th. Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and KPCC chief DK Shivakumar presented a united front leading up to the elections, which helped the Congress secure a massive following.
The Congress party won 135 seats, the highest tally for any party since 1989, virtually nullifying the possibility of Operation Lotus. In a meeting between the top leaders of the Karnataka Congress, Siddaramaiah proposed a resolution that was unanimously supported by everyone, including DK Shivakumar.
Several possibilities, including rotating the positions between the two leaders and having multiple deputy chief ministers, were discussed in the meeting. The swearing-in ceremony for the chief minister and the cabinet is likely to take place on May 18th, and it will be attended by the high command of the Congress party along with some like-minded parties, according to a report by Business Today.
However, the lobbying for the leader took a community-centric turn when a Vokkaliga seer of Adichunchanagiri Math, Nirmalandanatha Swami, urged the Congress party to appoint DK Shivakumar as the next chief minister of the state. The seer asked for the appointment as a reward for the leader who had worked hard to get the party back in power.
“It is a tradition that whoever is the president of the party is also given responsibility to lead the state when the party comes to power. DK Shivkumar, from Vokkalaiga community, should become the Chief Minister of the state. He is eligible to lead the state in every way,” said the seer.
In addition, the Waqf board demanded that a Muslim be appointed as the deputy chief minister of Karnataka. “We already said before the elections that the deputy chief minister should be a Muslim and that 30 seats be given to us… We got 15, and nine Muslim candidates have won. In about 72 constituencies, the Congress won purely because of the Muslims. We, as a community, have given a lot to the Congress. Now it’s time we get something in return. We want a Muslim deputy chief minister and five ministers with good portfolios like Home, Revenue, and Education. It’s the responsibility of the Congress to thank us with this. We held an emergency meeting in the Sunni Ulma board office to ensure all these are implemented,” Waqf Board chairman Shafi Sadi said.
The Congress party will need to navigate these demands carefully while selecting the next Chief Minister of Karnataka.