Even though the reports emerging from Karnataka suggest that Siddramaiha is close to becoming the chief minister of the state for a second time, Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar was Delhi-bound on Tuesday, 16 May, to discuss with the party’s central leadership the issue of government formation in the state.
He and Siddaramaiah, both frontrunners for the chief minister’s post, were called by the Congress’ central leadership to Delhi for discussions.
However, Shivakumar, on Monday evening, cancelled his visit to the national capital citing health issues, fuelling speculation that all was not well in the party.
Siddaramaiah has been in Delhi since Monday.
The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president left for Delhi from Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru by a 9:50 am flight, his office said in a statement.
Report submitted to Kharge
The three central observers of the Congress, who interacted with newly-elected party MLAs on their choice for chief minister, briefed party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and submitted their report on Monday.
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP), which met at a hotel in Bengaluru on Sunday, had passed a unanimous resolution authorising Kharge to pick the next chief minister of Karnataka.
On the directions of Kharge, the three AICC appointed observers — former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde, AICC general secretary (GS) Deepak Babaria, and former AICC GS Jitendra Singh — sought the opinion of each legislator on the appointment of the leader of the CLP.
However, the legislators were asked to vote for their choice for the next chief minister in a secret ballot. The polling process was held under the supervision of the AICC observers.
The observers then carried the ballots to the national party headquarters, where they were opened in the presence of Kharge in Delhi on Monday evening.
Related: All about CM race in Karnataka
Who will be the CM?
The “secret votes” exercised by the newly elected 135 legislators of the Congress seem to have drawn the curtains on the suspense over the appointment of the leader of the CLP and, by extension, the next chief minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah reportedly received more votes than the KPCC chief DK Shivakumar.
“Over 90 legislators voted in favour of Siddaramaiah to be the next leader for the CLP, eventually the next chief minister of Karnataka,” party’s sources told South First on the night of Monday, 15 May, as observers appointed by the Congress met AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge with the ballot box.
Shivakumar is locked in an intense power struggle with Siddaramaiah over who will lead the government, after the Congress stormed to power by winning 135 seats in the May 10 elections to the 224-member Karnataka Assembly.
Amid speculation about the number of MLAs supporting him and Siddaramaiah for the post, Shivakumar on Monday said his strength is 135, as it was under his leadership that the party won 135 seats.
Results not declared
The high command is yet to declare the results of the secret ballot.
After meeting with many newly-elected MLAs at his residence in Bengaluru, Siddaramaiah flew to Delhi to meet the high command in the afternoon on Monday.
Sources said on Monday: “Siddaramaiah couldn’t meet the high command. He is likely to stay overnight at the national capital and meet the high command tomorrow morning.”
The former chief minister was accompanied by many senior MLAs (from his faction) including Gadag MLA HK Patil, KPCC campaign committee chairman and Bableshwar MLA MB Patil, and Chamrajpet MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan.
In just-concluded Assembly elections, the Congress scored an emphatic victory with 135 seats, while the ruling BJP and the former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) secured 66 and 19 seats, respectively.
(With PTI inputs)