Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah
Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah
File Photo

Bengaluru: Even as the BJP high command wants a new face to be the next CM in Karnataka replacing old guard BS Yediyurappa, the Congress is caught in a battle over who will be the CM face in the 2023 Assembly elections.

As the clash between Congress state unit president DK Shivakumar and opposition leader Siddaramaiah over the issue intensified, a worried party high command has summoned the two leaders to Delhi to defuse the growing crisis.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet AICC president Sonia Gandhi and former president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday. Congress sources here said party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may also be present.

The Congress is brimming with confidence having won seven of ten urban local bodies in the recent polls. The party hopes to carry the momentum into local bodies and MLC (25 seats from panchayats) elections over the next 18 months before the 2023 assembly elections.

But who will lead the team is the issue. Supporters of Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah have locked horns on the matter. A third group is pitching for a Dalit chief minister with Mallikarjun Kharge and G Parameswara as leading contenders. “The fight to be projected as chief ministerial candidate when elections are two years away is not just ridiculous but also hurts the party’s image. Some of us sought the high command’s intervention,” senior Congress functionary and MLC BK Hariprasad was quoted in the media.

The leadership may direct the two leaders to fight elections under one leader and restrain their supporters from making public statements.

However, Siddaramaiah and DKS downplayed the issue, saying that the Delhi meeting is about organisational restructuring and appointment of office-bearers. “There’s no question of fighting for the chief minister’s post when we’re yet to get it. The meeting will discuss organisational issues,” said Shivakumar.

Siddaramaiah said: “Don’t read much into this. It’s a routine meeting where party affairs and political issues will be discussed.”

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