Senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar, who is miffed that he was overlooked for the post of deputy chief minister, kept up pressure on the party by skipping the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Thursday.
Shivakumar, a prominent Vokkaliga leader, had publicly aired his grouse after the Congress nominated Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G Parameshwara as deputy chief minister. He wants the party to appoint him as KPCC president and also give him a Cabinet berth as a recognition of the “risks” he has taken in the interest of the party.
The former minister, considered as the Congress’ go-to man during a crisis, had kept the party on tenterhooks by pulling out over a dozen MLAs loyal to him from the hotel where all legislators have been kept. Apparently, Shivakumar held a meeting with them separately. It is also learnt that the party top brass has, in strong words, asked Shivakumar to be patient.
The legislators, however, made it back to the hotel for the CLP meet chaired by legislature party leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah, where the MLAs were asked to remain united for the crucial election of the Assembly Speaker and the subsequent floor test on Friday.
After persuasion by AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, Siddaramaiah and Parameshwara, the former minister attended the CLP meeting only to collect the whip issued by the party to the MLAs for voting in favour of the trust vote on Friday.
Reacting to Shivakumar’s grouse, Parameshwara said it was up to the party high command to decide who should get what post in this coalition arrangement. “There’s no disgruntlement in the party. There’s nothing wrong in someone asking for a post. There are many in the Congress who are eligible to become deputy chief minister and chief minister” he told reporters.
On Wednesday, Shivakumar had chided Parameshwara for holding on to the post of KPCC president for eight years. Parameshwara said the party high command had, so far, not asked him to step down from the post. “When I was the home minister, it was a choice between continuing as a minister or as KPCC president. I chose the latter. This time also, whatever the party decides, I will follow. But if (Shivakumar) wants to be KPCC chief, I’ll be happy because he’s able and experienced.”
Parameshwara said he was confident that the Congress-JD(S) combine would succeed in the floor test on Friday. He also attacked BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa for inviting disgruntled Congress legislators to join the saffron party.