With the Karnataka elections around the corner, there have been reports that Congress would win to form a government. Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr Shivkumar are two candidates eyeing the position of chief minister in the Congress. However, with Mr Siddaramaiah’s clout, he would be a better chief minister than Mr Shivkumar.
Here are a few reasons why Mr Siddaramaiah would be a better CM than Mr Shivkumar:
1) A Mass Leader:
A lack of leadership causes anarchy in all major parties in Karnataka. Currently, no single leader in Karnataka can sway votes from Bidar to Bengaluru. However, Mr Siddaramaiah is one of the few leaders who can pull the masses. While the BJP has Mr Yediyurappa, Mr Siddaramaiah has a different type of pull which he can muster from the people of the north to the south because of one main reason- the Kuruba community. The community is spread across Karnataka, for whom grazing animals was the primary economic and livelihood activity. He has a good reach in the Vokkaliga community.
2) The Kuruba Leader:
Mr Siddaramaiah comes from the Kuruba community, which is spread across Karnataka. Siddaramaiah established himself as the voice of farmers in the Mysore region even before he won the Chamundeshwari seat. He has been a member of the Mysore Taluka Board since 1978 and was referred to as “the farmers’ lawyer.”
3) The AHINDA Leader:
Mr Siddaramaiah made the AHINDA group his strongest constituency after he was elected chief minister of Karnataka by proposing several projects for them. Without input from the top leadership, he is conceivably the only Congress leader chosen to lead the government by party legislators in a secret vote.
The AHINDA castes makeup nearly all of the underprivileged parts of society and account for close to 80% of the population in Karnataka. He is a strong candidate because he was able to capitalize on the vote bank of the AHINDA community with the help of his freebies, such as Bhagya Anna, Ksheer Anna, and others.
4) The MLA Leader:
When the party is in limbo to choose a chief minister, the high command takes into the voice of the MLAs. When we look into the case of Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr Shivkumar, Mr Siddaramaiah has the support of several MLAs who will vote for him. He could pull the maximum number of votes from the MLAs because of his political career and the network he can maintain. He was also in JD(s), where he had predominant support from his fellow MLAs. When he moved to Congress, his fellow MLAs took his path and joined the Congress as well.
5) As A CM and Finance Minister:
In the 2013 Legislative Assembly election, he helped the Indian National Congress win by winning an absolute majority of 122/224 seats. In addition, he became the second chief minister of Karnataka after Devaraj Urs held the position for the full five years of tenure.
As the finance minister for the government of Karnataka, he also holds the record for the most state budget presentations, 13 total. He is renowned for preserving fiscal responsibility within the parameters of the state’s Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, despite charges from the opposition that the state exchequer is in increasing debt.
The Challenge Ahead:
While he would be the preferred choice of candidature due to his clout and support from other MLAs, a significant challenge lies ahead of him. Since he has been the Chief Minister once, he is closer to Sonia Gandhi than Rahul Gandhi. It has been noted several times that Rahul Gandhi is not a fan of Mr Siddaramaiah and is close to Mr Shivkumar.
Mr Gandhi has been seen to alienate the old leadership of the Congress and push young leaders. An instance could be when Mr Shivkumar was roped in during the Gujarat elections to keep the BJP from poaching Congress MLAs. He brought them to Karnataka and kept them in a resort to protect them against poaching.
In the end, while Mr Siddaramaiah enjoys the support of several MLAs, Mr Shivkumar is favoured by the High Command. Only the election results shall reveal the winner.