‘Will Not Backstab Or Blackmail’: Shivakumar Ahead Of His Meeting With Congress Top Brass

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‘Will Not Backstab Or Blackmail’: Shivakumar Ahead Of His Meeting With Congress Top Brass

New Delhi: With the race for the new chief minister of Karnataka heating up between old warhorses Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar, the latter will discuss the issue of government formation in the southern state with the Congress’ central leadership in Delhi on Tuesday. Ahead of his departure, Shivakumar made it clear that he would not resort to ‘backstabbing or blackmailing’ regardless of the party’s decision.

“If the party wants they can give me the responsibility… Ours is a united house, our number is 135. I don’t want to divide anyone here. Whether they like me or not, I am a responsible man. I will not backstab and I will not blackmail,” DK Shivakumar told news agency ANI.

Speaking to reporters later, to a question on whether he would ask the high command to make him the Chief Minister, Shivakumar said that he has ‘done his duty’.

“People have blessed us (Congress). We have to put efforts unitedly to save and grow the public trust on us… Congress party is our mother, temple, everything,” he added.

Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, who are locked in an intense power struggle over who will lead the new Congress government in Karnataka, were called by the party’s central leadership to the national capital for discussions. While Siddaramaiah arrived in Delhi on Monday afternoon amid intense lobbying for the top post, Shivakumar canceled his visit citing health issues.

The Congress faces the uphill task of satisfying the two leaders since it stormed to power by winning 135 seats in the May 10 elections to the 224-member Assembly.

Earlier on Sunday, the Congress Legislature Party, which met at a hotel in Bengaluru, had passed a unanimous resolution authorizing party chief Mallikarjun Kharge to pick who will be the next chief minister of Karnataka. The three central observers of the Congress, who interacted with newly-elected party MLAs on their choice for chief minister, then briefed Kharge and submitted their report on Monday.

Congress not in a hurry to choose new Karnataka CM

AICC in-charge for Karnataka Randeep Surjewala on Monday said that the party was not in a hurry to choose the new CM and would take a decision after wider consultations with state leaders.

“The observers have submitted the report to the Congress president. We will hold consultations with all senior state leaders, including Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar, and after that a decision will be taken by the Congress president,” he told reporters outside Kharge’s residence after the meeting. .

He added that the Congress president believes that the decision should be taken while keeping unity, unanimity, consensus and the welfare of Kannadigas in mind.

Kharge is likely to take a decision on who will be the next chief minister of Karnataka after holding consultations with top Congress leadership, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

DK Shivakumar’s ‘pressure tactic’

Amid various claims about the number of MLAs supporting him and Siddaramaiah for the Karnataka CM’s post, DK Shivakumar on Monday said that his strength is 135, as under his presidency in the state the party had won the seats.

“We had made a one-line resolution, stating we will leave the matter to party high command, after that some might have shared their personal opinion. I don’t have the strength to speak about other’s numbers, my strength is 135, I am the party president and under my presidency, the party has won 135 seats in Karnataka, against the double engine (BJP) government, the corrupt administration and suffering of the people,” he said.

His move is now seen as a ‘pressure tactic’ to assert his claim on the top post and indicates that the leadership war in the southern state is far from over.

Siddaramaiah vs DK Shivakumar

Siddaramaiah, 75, is a leader with mass appeal and has the experience of running a government for a full five-year term from 2013-18. He is also considered close to former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and apparently has his backing.

He, however, is not so much organizationally connected with the party and is still considered an outsider by a section of Congress’s old guard as he was formerly with the JD(S).

Shivakumar, on the other hand, has strong organizational capabilities and is considered resourceful. The 61-year-old is also said to be Congress’ troubleshooter during tough times and has the backing of the dominant Vokkaliga community, its influential seers, and leaders.

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