Rahul backs Siddaramaiah in Karnataka; heartbreaks for DK Shivakumar, MB Patil

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By Manish Aanand

New Delhi, October 22: Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday seemingly endorsed the Chief Ministerial bid of Siddaramaiah even while the party’s campaign committee chairman in Karnataka MB Patil and the state unit president DK Shivakumar are overtly nursing the CM dream in the poll bound state.

“Taswir..jo badlegi Karnataka ki tagdir (Picture that will change the fate of Karnataka,” captioned Congress to a tweet in which Gandhi is holding the hands of Siddaramiah and Shivakumar afloat. Gandhi returned to the second leg of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Karnataka.

The picture shared by Congress’ official twitter handle was similar to previous such tweets shared for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the past. Gandhi had shared similar photographs with Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia after Congress had formed the government in Bhopal with the Chhindwara strongman as the Chief Minister.

Gandhi had also posted similar photograph with Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot when the party formed the government in Rajasthan in 2018. Same was the case in Chhattisgarh when Bhupesh Baghel and T. Singh Deo when the party formed the government in Raipur in 2018. The theme in all such photographs was same that the party is seeking to address the aspirations of the sets of rivals in each state, by showing future to one, while backing the old guard for the top post. Siddaramaiah has turned 75, and he is running a parallel campaign in Karnataka to position himself for the CM face of the party. Gandhi has also participated in the grand celebrations of Siddaramaiah’s birthday a few weeks ago.

The photograph is likely to cause heartburn for Shivakumar, who is hoping that Congress will back him for the CM face in the Assembly election campaign. Karnataka is heading for the Assembly elections in May-June next year. Patil is also running a parallel campaign for projecting himself as the CM candidate in Karnataka. He is the campaign committee chairman of Congress. Patil is building his case by arguing that he could bring the Lingayata vote base to Congress.

Gandhi’s apparent endorsement of Siddaramaiah is also against the party’s tradition of not naming a CM face in a poll bound state. But the Congress unit in Karnataka is seen to be faction-ridden, and the party high command may be sending out a loud message ahead of the polls to close the flanks.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has also launched its election campaign in Karnataka by backing CM Basavaraj Bommai, who is a Lingayata. Bommai has taken out a yatra in the company of his predecessor BSY Yediyurappa, the BJP’s top Lingayata icon in the state.

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