‘Shivakumar could be preparing a list of candidates in constituencies where he has a strong support base’.
NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Assembly polls, the Congress in Karnataka is facing the political dilemma of who to project as the Chief Minister face out of two prominent faces—ex-Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and current state unit chief D.K. Shivakumar. Though there may not be any declaration of a CM face before polls, to step into the Assembly elections fray stronger, Shivakumar needs to get as many tickets for his loyalists in constituencies where Congress has greater chances of winning.
More importantly, there are three senior prominent leaders (Mallikarjun Kharge, Siddaramaiah, and D.K. Shivakumar) who would get a say in deciding the tickets for 224 seats of the upcoming Assembly elections in the state.
A section of Congress leaders believe that Shivakumar could be preparing a list of candidates in constituencies where he has a strong support base which would power his loyalists to win the elections.
A party insider said: “Shivakumar is preparing candidates who can always stand by him, like Siddaramaiah, who has a chunk of MLAs always listening to him. And if he tells them to quit the party, they will even quit the party. For Shivakumar, the challenge is to get the tickets for his loyalists in constituencies where Congress has higher chances of winning. So he can also have a say over his legislators. What good will losing candidates do to him even if they get tickets? So the focus would be on getting tickets in prospective constituencies.”
Moreover, there is a strategic silence being played out by the two leaders in order to carry the Congress, unscathed over the victory line in the state (to get to 113 seats). The track of unity, which according to party leaders was planned by Shivakumar, has yielded greater respect for the leader. However, they also believe the chief ministerial endgame will start after the party wins the elections.
A political analyst in the state said, “The aim is to win the elections first, because they know that the BJP has a gigantic election machinery and any misplacement of any decision will cost the party dear. If the Congress does not win, it will be a loss for everybody and then the battle or the blame game between the two leaders could worsen. If the party wins, everybody would get something, that is the norm. Those who are not given tickets and yet have worked hard will also get accommodated elsewhere.”
There is also an understanding within the Congress camp that if the Congress wins the state elections, it would be difficult for the high command to choose the Chief Minister. A political observer said, “Shivakumar has worked hard to build the Congress organisation, which will make him think that he is deserving of the top position. So he will naturally fight for it.”