Congress faces infighting over Karnataka CM candidate | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: After BJP, the fight over future chief minister has intensified in Congress with a few MLAs aggressively promoting opposition leader Siddaramaiah for the post, much to the chagrin of KPCC president DK Shivakumar and his supporters.
Started by Chamarajpet MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan a week ago, ‘Siddaramaiah, the next CM’ campaign saw three more MLAs — Basavaraj Hitnal from Koppal, JN Ganesh from Kampli and Bheema Naik from Hagaribommanahalli — openly endorsing it, threatening to divide the party between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar groups ahead of the assembly elections.
Zameer raised the issue for the first time at a function in his constituency which was attended by Siddaramaiah. He said he would prefer to address him “not as former CM but as future CM of the state”. He also claimed he was only echoing people’s wishes. Shivakumar, who has also set his eyes on the CM post, took objection and warned MLAs against projecting anyone as the party’s candidate. “The party will face the 2023 elections under collective leadership. The high command and the legislators will choose the CM,” he said.
But the warning had little impact on Zameer. “If people are willing to see Siddaramaiah as the CM, then the party will also have to accept it,” he said, indirectly hitting back at Shivakumar. Soon after, Hitnal and others chipped in to bat for Siddaramaiah.
Siddaramaiah claimed the statements by some MLAs in his favour are out of their love towards him and the high command will take a final call. “Our focus right now is only on bringing back the party to power,” he said. But many Congress leaders see the development as a well thought-out plan by the Siddaramaiah camp to ascertain supremacy in the party. “Siddaramaiah is trying to assert his standing as the most popular leader in the party through his supporters. At the same time, he is trying to create some kind of jitters in the Shivakumar camp,” said a KPCC office bearer.
Sensing that his authority as KPCC president is being questioned by Siddaramaiah supporters, Shivakumar rushed to Delhi in the guise of discussing the party’s organisational issues and managed to get a gag order for MLAs from the high command. “I have noted with concern that some people have become prone to issuing statements about the party’s leadership in Karnataka. I warn them to avoid such comments completely. The central leadership and MLAs will take a call on leadership issues at an appropriate time,” Randeep Singh Surjewala said after Shivakumar’s meeting with former AICC president Rahul Gandhi.
“Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar are popular among MLAs and known for their grit to achieve what they want. So the tussle will continue though Siddaramaiah supporters may stop issuing statements after the diktat,” said an ex-minister.


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