Bengaluru: Just days after the political dust started settling down in the BJP over the leadership issue of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, a battle of supremacy has broken out in the Congress camp between Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar and former chief minister Siddaramaiah.
Though the two leaders have not directly locked horns over the issue so far, their followers have started drumming up support for their respective leaders forcing the AICC to step in and prevent things from spinning out of control.
The AICC Monday asked the leaders and their supporters to refrain from airing their views about the party's leadership in the state.
In a statement, AICC General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "It is our faith that people’s welfare and the state’s progress should be our sole objective as the BJP government crumbles under its own weight. I have noted with concern that certain individuals in the Congress party have recently become prone to issuing statements about leadership in the state or leadership post-Congress government formation. I take this opportunity to forewarn them to avoid such comments completely".
"The central Congress leadership and MLA’s will decide the issue at an appropriate time. All Congress leaders will continue to fight the battle unitedly in people’s interest", Surjewala directed this at Zameer Ahmed Khan after he publicly projected former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah as the Chief Ministerial face for the next elections in 2023”.
The statement comes amid reports that the Congress in the state is getting divided into two camps -- one backing Siddaramaiah and the other DKS.
It was MLA Zameer Ahmed who first stoked a controversy Sunday when he said Siddaramaiah is not the former CM but as the future CM of Karnataka. He has also urged the party to declare Siddaramaiah as CM face of the Congress. Following this, another MLA, Raghavendra Hitnal backed Zameer’s remark, prompting the Congress central leadership to put an end to this war between the two camps.
A worried party high command is keen that both the camps must put aside their differences and focus on winning the 2023 Assembly elections. "The entire Congress leadership in the state will leave no stone unturned in putting Karnataka as a frontline state in agriculture and economy and as an example to be emulated by the rest of the country". Surjewala said in his statement.
Meanwhile, Shivakumar has issued a diktat asking party men against projecting anyone as the CM face. The party would go to polls under a collective leadership, and everyone has to "stay within limits", he said.
Despite the warnings and diktat, the two leaders have been involved in political one-upmanship. A tweet by the official account of Congress last month had stated that the Covid-19 pandemic would have been under control if Shivakumar was the Chief Minister. This obviously enraged the Siddaramaiah camp.
Siddaramaiah had headed a Congress government between 2013-18 as Chief Minister, in which Shivakumar, who is often referred as the party's "troubleshooter", was a Minister.