The Congress has crossed a major hurdle in the formation of a government in Karnataka. The deal brokered under which Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar will be the chief minister and deputy chief minister respectively is the best under the given situation. The party could not have overlooked the fact that Siddaramaiah was more popular among the newly-elected MLAs than Shivakumar. True, it was Shivakumar who, as PCC chief, rebuilt and re-energised the party into an organisation that could take on the Bharatiya Janata Party. While he had the solid support of a large section of the politically powerful Vokkaligas, Siddaramaiah could claim the support of people belonging to all sections of society, including the backwards and the minorities. It was Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge who proved his mettle as a troubleshooter with, of course, the support of the High Command, a euphemism for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
There are, of course, big challenges facing the party in Karnataka. Cabinet formation is one of them, with Shivakumar wanting a larger share of the portfolios for himself or his supporters. Already, the Congress has had to compromise on its one-man-one-post principle by allowing him to hold the post of party chief while being deputy CM, at least till the next parliamentary elections. There is also some sort of an agreement that Shivakumar will take over as chief minister after two years. There can be no disputing the fact that if the two leaders work in concert, the party will be in a position to fulfil the promises made to the electorate. They cannot overlook the fact that although the BJP was trounced, its base remains more or less intact in the state. There are also open threats that the party would go to any extent to destabilise the Congress applecart.
The tussle for the leadership underscored not only the democratic set-up in the organisation but also the weakening of the high command, which is neither high, nor has the capacity to command. Of course, the situation in the BJP is not any different as there are too many claimants for the post of leader of the Opposition. Incidentally, the BJP in UP had taken a longer time to choose its chief ministerial candidate. Needless to say, the people of Karnataka are watching, and they expect the Congress leaders to overcome their personal prejudices and join hands with one another to provide a government that delivers on promises.
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