Siddaramaiah will take over as the 26th chief minister of Karnataka on Saturday, 20 May. This will be the 75-year-old leader’s second time at the helm of affairs of the state.
A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) has been called by state unit president DK Shivakumar in Bengaluru at 7 pm on Thursday, 18 May, to formally name Siddaramaiah as its leader.
A formal announcement from the party is, however, still awaited.
The decision to make Siddaramaiah the chief minister was made following four days of marathon meetings chaired by AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi.
With KPCC President DK Shivakumar, too, insisting on being rewarded with the chief minister’s post for delivering Karnataka in the Assembly polls 2023, the central leadership of the party engaged in several rounds of consultations to bring everyone on board.
Siddaramaiah’s elevation is expected to add to Congress’ push of its “social justice” plank in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Social justice has been a prominent plank invoked by Kharge and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi on several occasions in the run-up to Karnataka assembly elections.
Siddaramaiah — an AHINDA (Kannada acronym for Minorities, Dalits and Other Backward Classes) icon in Karnataka — is expected to help Congress keep its caste consolidation intact for the Lok Sabha polls and also deliver on the administration front, given his experience as chief minister in the past.
Siddaramaiah is the only chief minister since Devaraj Urs to complete full five years in office (2013 to 2018) — a rarity in Karnataka politics.
Celebrations began in Siddaramaiah’s hometown, Siddaramanahundi, in Mysuru, on Wednesday as news of Congress’ high command choosing him as the chief minister trickled in.
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, party observers, general secretaries, and chief minister aspirants Siddaramaiah and KPCC president DK Shivakumar attended the meeting that spread over three days.
Ever since the Congress Legislature Party meeting was held at a private hotel in Bengaluru on Sunday, 14 May, Siddaramaiah and his supporters have been camping in Delhi, pitching for the chief ministerial post.
The former chief minister also managed to garner the support of over 90 legislators in a “secret voting” conducted by AICC-appointed observers during the CLP meeting.
After Siddaramaiah got the MLAs’ support, he staked a claim to the chief minister’s post and also held a series of talks with AICC chief Kharge and other senior party leaders in Delhi on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Siddaramaiah likely to take oath on 20 May
Siddaramaiah’s swearing-in ceremony is likely to be held at the Kanteerava Stadium on 20 May. Other ministers will take oath in the following days.
“Siddaramaiah is likely to take oath as the chief minister on Saturday. He alone will take the oath and the Cabinet ministers are expected to be sworn in over the following days,” party sources confirmed to South First.
Preparations for the oath-taking ceremony have already begun at the stadium, sources said.
Shivakumar as DyCM, to continue as KPCC president
Chief ministerial post aspirant DK Shivakumar is likely to continue as the KPCC president and the high command has reportedly offered him the post of deputy chief minister as well as plum portfolios.
Shivakumar travelled to the national capital on Tuesday morning and held a series of meetings with AICC chief Kharge and other party leaders.
Shivakumar was reportedly not ready to give up his claim to the chief ministerial post, but the high command convinced him to make way for Siddaramaiah.
Several cases against DK Shivakumar, pending before central agencies like the Income Tax (I-T) Department, CBI, and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are said to have been an impediment him attaining the coveted post.
For the Congress, that fought the Karnataka Assembly polls with corruption as one of its primary planks, Shivakumar’s run-in with agencies could come as a perception challenge.
MLAs close to DK Shivakumar, however, will be made Cabinet ministers with portfolios of his choice, party sources told South First.
On whether he would demand the chief minister’s post, he had told reporters in Bengaluru on Tuesday: “I have done my duty. The Congress is my mother and temple.”
Even the Adichunchanagiri Mutt pontiff Nirmalanandanatha Swamiji and other community leaders supported Shivakumar.
High command plans for 3 DyCMs
If everything goes as planned, Congress’s high command is all set to appoint three deputy chief ministers: One from the Lingayat community, a Dalit, and a Vokkaliga.
This is to give prominence to the major communities that supported Congress in the 10 May Assembly elections.
Senior Lingayat leaders HK Patil and MB Patil are in the race for the DyCM post, and Koratagere MLA Dr. G Parameshwar is the frontrunner for the DyCM post among Dalits.
“If KPCC chief Shivakumar approves the appointment of two more DyCMs then one Lingayat and a Dalit are likely to be named. If he doesn’t agree to two more DyCMs, then these communities are likely to be given prominent portfolios such as Home and Revenue,” a party source said.
Ever since the CLP meeting, there were talks among the Congress ranks that the party is planning to appoint three DyCMs.