Early signs of trouble begin as power-sharing formula has not been announced yet; doubts over Siddaramaiah-Shivakumar ‘truce’ stay.
NEW DELHI: Even as the Congress succeeded in ending the deadlock after four days by announcing Siddaramaiah as the Chief Minister of Karnataka and making D.K. Shivakumar his deputy, while retaining him as the state party chief, questions loom over the arrangement and its longevity, as a top-level source close to Siddaramaiah claimed that his leader will, in fact, remain the Chief Minister for a full five years.
On the condition of anonymity, this source said that there is no truth to the claims being made that the Chief Minister’s post will be rotated between the two top leaders, Siddaramaih and DKS.
“The issue has been settled. It’s the people’s mandate. Elected MLAs have reposed their faith in Siddaramaiah. He is a man of magnanimity. He is Mr Clean in Indian politics. There are no allegations, no corruption charges against him. There is no nepotism also. He is Obama (former US President Barack Obama) of Indian politics,” the source told The Sunday Guardian.
In fact, political observers believe that the so-called agreement to rotate the Chief Minister’s post between the two leaders will last only until the 2024 general elections and sooner than later Shivakumar may restart demanding the CM’s chair. Said the source close to Siddaramaiah: “‘Everybody has ambitions. Shivakumar is a three-time MLA. So naturally he wanted to get a post. He is not Buddha.”
Political scientist and psephologist Sandeep Shastri did not express surprise over Shivakumar staking claim for the chief ministership. “This was expected as DKS was jockeying for the best bargain. And he got it. What I have called 1+1+1, Deputy CM, choice of portfolios, and continuation as KPCC president. This will be an interesting partnership which will need to be consciously nurtured and kept on track,” he said.
Former journalist and political analyst Tyagaraj Sharma said, “It is difficult to predict the time frame but definitely for some time the truce will prevail but this is a simmering discontent. This can flare up anytime. I definitely suspect that it is not going to be governed smoothly at this point of time. Even in the Lok Sabha elections, if the Congress does not do well in the Lok Sabha elections, both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar will blame each other for the debacle.”
The problem does not end with the announcement of the Chief Minister and his deputy. Political analysts said the second round of problems will start with the formation of the cabinet and the distribution of portfolios.
According to Sharma, the tussle will be on distribution of portfolios as well because every community would like to have a piece of the cake and it would not be possible for any government to ensure that everybody is happy.
“The issues will keep flaring up as demand will not stop and both the factions will try to get the most. It is a difficult job and how they will handle it is to be seen. But one thing is for sure that it is not going to be a smooth ride for them,” he added.
Senior journalist Rajshekhar said the power sharing formula has not been announced yet; so it is not known what the agreement reached is.
“There could be a lot of divisions in the party and the government. Now it would boil down to who will be in the cabinet and what kind of portfolio they get. There are three power centres—Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar and Mallikarjun Kharge. Kharge will go by what the high command says, but Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar would like to have their own people and more portfolios by their side. There are many senior leaders who will get priority and it would be difficult to have the right combination keeping caste and community factors in mind. Vokkaligas and Lingayats will get more cabinet berths,” he said.
However, a party leader pointed out that even in the run-up to the Assembly elections, there were three power centres—Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar and Kharge. “All of them were trying to push their candidates, but the grand old party managed to show a united face and register a convincing victory,’’ he said.
Whatever be the reasons for Siddaramaiah’s win and Shivakumar’s “loss” in the tussle for the top post, the fact is that Congress has managed to bring a truce between the two leaders and was looking forward to reviving its fortunes in other southern neighbouring states which will go to the polls by the end of this year and next year, respectively.