Congress has definitely won the assembly elections in Karnataka but that seems to be a semi-final now as the real battle for the high command seems to be waiting right at their doorsteps. Congress has grabbed 135 out of 224 seats and bagged a majority that’s quite rare in that southern state.
For Karnataka, hung assembly has been a customary norm but this time INC passed the test of democracy, where it’s actually hanging is the decision to choose a chief minister out of two impactful and strong leaders who are in the race and no one seems to back off.
The newly elected Congress MLAs on Sunday unanimously resolved to authorize AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge to appoint a new leader of the Congress Legislature Party, who could be the next chief minister of Karnataka so the ball is now in the court of high command. The leaders had to get into this operation because none among former CM Siddaramaiah and party president DK Shivakumar was ready to settle for anything less than the chief minister’s post and Congress is trying hard not to make Karnataka another Rajasthan.
Mere trying doesn’t seem like sufficing here as DK Shivakumar didn’t make it to the meeting that was to be held today in Delhi with the top leadership while Siddaramaiah chose to fly for the meet. Congress state president said he won’t be travelling due to a stomach infection but his sudden decision is sparking many more speculations and hinting towards the infection that has already spread internally in the party.
Shivakumar proclaimed with ounces of confidence that he has all 135 MLAs with him though he doesn’t like to talk about numbers. He also owned the victory like a strong leader and said – Under my leadership, Congress got 135 seats. He hinted towards an internal tension and said he will protest if required. Though all these statements evaporated by the evening and he played diplomatically only to say that it is the high command who has to make decisions and he is okay with whatever he gets in his kit.
But together with this politically-correct statement, he dropped the plan to come to Delhi to meet the leadership. It obviously has sparked a lot of speculations – that Congress has already decided for Siddaramaiah, that Shivkumar feels he is not getting the due of his hard work, and that he is certainly upset with the decision.
Shivakumar has been the ‘Sankatmochak’ of Congress and in the 2018 elections as well, it was he who sketched out how to be in power even after the hung assembly. The victory of 2023 was certainly a lot about his efforts but Congress chose to give all credit to ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ for obvious reasons.
Now, if the party chooses Siddaramaiah over Shivakumar, the latter will have all the reasons to feel sidelined and if we look at the maths, it would be hard for the party to remain tact and reign without his support. He has the might to turn into the next Scindia and BJP may have a chance to jump over the throne once again but seeing his overall graph, leaving the party that he has been serving since the age of 27 seems almost impossible. What gains the probability is him turning into ‘Pilot’ and leaving the governance in autopilot mode.
His pilot attempt might make INC rethink its decision but taking into account the scenarios of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, rethinking seems to have no place in the party’s strategy. They tend to lose it rather than rethinking and this is why youth feels a little less connected to the oldest party of the largest democracy.