Too many cooks may spoil broth for Karnataka Congress

Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar and MB Patil
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By S Jha

New Delhi, July 22: While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has set in motion its poll preparations for the next year’s Assembly elections in Karnataka, the state unit of the Congress appears pulled apart by at least three power centres – former state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar and MB Patil.

They all want to be the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

While Siddaramaiah is the Congress’ biggest crowd puller, enjoying the support base among the other backward castes, Shivakumar, the state unit party chief, is playing the Vokkaliga card ahead of the next year’s Assembly elections.

The third angle in the power tussle is MB Patil, the campaign committee chief of the state unit of the Congress, who is seeking to build his case for the Chief Minister’s post on his Lingayata background.

Siddaramaiah is turning 75 years of age next month, and his rivals in the state unit of the Congress believe that the top brass of the party will take a leaf out of the book of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ask the former Chief Minister to make a graceful exit.

However, Siddaramaiah has already said that the 2023 Assembly elections would be his last, and thus he has made it clear that he is not taking a voluntary retirement on his own.

Without Siddaramaiah, the Congress may struggle in Karnataka, as the BJP will seek to cash in on the OBC background of Modi to make inroads in the vote base of the opposition party.

But Patil and Shivakumar have been sparring for long, and there was a purported truce between the two leaders during the Congress’ ‘Chinatn Shivir” in Udaipur early this year.

Patil is learnt to have told media persons off the record in Belgavi on Friday hinted that he would go to the Lingayata community members to seek their support for his Chief Ministerial bid.

This, he said, would be on the lines of Shivakumar canvassing for the support among the Vokkaligas for his Chief Ministerial positioning in the state ahead of the elections, likely to be held in April next year.

The JD (S) is known to have strong vote base among the Vokkaligas in the state, while the BJP counts on the Longayata community support in the Karnataka politics.

With the BJP’s tallest Lingayata leaders BS Yediyurappa eased out from active politics in the state, Patil hopes to build his case and also within the Congress amid clear infighting in the party rages.

However, the Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai is also building his profile in the state politics as the true inheritor of the BSY’s Linagayata electoral legacy.

MB Patil is learnt to be frequently quoting the case of Veerendra Patil, who when he was the state unit chief and was the Chief Minister, the Congress had won 179 seats in the state, which has a total of 224 seats.

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