Cong, a migrants' party now

Why only Siddaramaiah for Leader of Opposition post, ask seniors

Cong, a migrants' party now

This reflects a lot on how the party has been nurtured and strengthened over the years in Karnataka.

R V Deshpande, KPCC President, V S Ugrappa, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council and Krishna Byregowda, State Youth Congress President were all earlier in different avatars of the Janata Parivar. Barring Krishna, the rest two were with the Janata Parivar for long.

Now it is the turn of Siddaramaiah to get a coveted post -- Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly. He is also a migrant from the Janata Parivar to the Congress.
The Congress has announced that a new leader of the Congress Legislature Party will be elected, as was done last time. Mallikharjun Kharge too was an elected leader of the CLP. The party elicited the opinion of the MLAs before making Kharge as the CLP leader.

Deshpande has announced that the new leader will be elected on Sunday.

But there is speculation in the party circles that the high command may not go in for an election or opinion collection because there are many aspirants for the post. Deputy leader of the Opposition T B Jayachandra and senior leader G Parameshwara are not going to reject the post if it is offered to them.
But it is a forgone conclusion that Siddaramaiah is going to occupy the gaddi, which has been vacated by Kharge, many in the party say on the eve of CLP meeting at 4 pm on Sunday.

Poor show

But why Siddaramaiah, who is just a three-year-old in the Congress, should get the post?
For this the old-timers in the party say that the high command has assured him of some prime post in the party. They also say that the party, if believes in democratic principles, should conduct an election or at least seek the opinion of the MLAs. “But in all probability Gulam Nabi Azad will just convey the decision taken by the high command to make Siddaramaiah as the leader and seek the co-operation of the MLAs, who are the voters,” a Congress leader said.

Siddaramaiah in public has not expressed his desire or demand for any post. However, it is a fact that he is eyeing a plum post.

When his demand was not met, he kept off from campaigning for the party candidates in the by-elections held to eight assembly constituencies in December last. The Congress lost all the eight seats.

The high command had reportedly directed Siddaramaiah to show good results in the Lok Sabha elections so that his ‘wish’ could be fulfiled. In the LS elections too, the Congress’ performance was pathetic. In 2004, the Congress held eight LS seats. In 2009, its strength reduced to six despite Siddaramaiah campaigning. Three times he travelled the length and breadth of the State by helicopter. Still the supporters of Siddaramaiah gave credit to their leader for winning the Mysore and Chamarajanagar seats. Here too the victory margins of the Congress candidates were not impressive.

Caste politics

The party also lost Raichur, Koppal and Haveri seats, where Kuruba population is in considerable number. Siddaramaiah is a Kuruba. Giving these facts, the old-timers in the party say that the high command should not yield to pressure tactics of Siddaramaiah and appoint him as the CLP leader. In addition, they point out that Siddaramaiah is junior to Jayachandra, who is now the deputy leader of the legislative assembly.

But having Siddaramaiah in a key post may help the Congress in future. If the party wants to have a tie-up with the JD(S) in future, Siddaramaiah can negotiate with his one-time party leader H D Kumaraswamy, it is said. Such developments may not take place immediately. It is to be seen whether the senior Congress leaders will co-operate with Siddaramaiah if he becomes the CLP leader.

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