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Step aside, make way for DK Shivakumar as Karnataka CM: Top Vokkaliga seer to Siddaramaiah

The pontiff chose to say this at the 515th birth anniversary of Bengaluru founder Kempegowda, an icon of the Vokkaliga community to which Shivakumar also belongs.
Last Updated : 27 June 2024, 10:38 IST

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Bengaluru: Top Vokkaliga pontiff Kumara Chandrashekaranatha Swami on Thursday publicly asked Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to step aside and hand over power to DK Shivakumar, causing consternation in the ruling Congress.

The pontiff chose to say this at the 515th birth anniversary of Bengaluru founder Kempegowda, an icon of the Vokkaliga community to which Shivakumar also belongs.

"Everyone has been the CM and tasted power. Only DK Shivakumar hasn’t become the chief minister," Kumara Chandrashekaranatha Swami, who heads the Vishwa Vokkaliga Mahasamsthana Mutt, said on stage. "This can happen only if Siddaramaiah makes up his mind. So, please make Shivakumar the CM," the pontiff said as Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar looked on.

Influential Vokkaliga seers Nirmalanandanatha Swami (Adi Chunchunagiri Mutt) and Nanjavadhoota Swami (Spatikapuri Mutt) were also on stage at the time.

The pontiff’s statement came a day after Channagiri Congress MLA Basavaraju Shivaganga also called for Shivakumar to become the CM.

Talk about change in leadership has haunted Congress ever since it formed government last year, largely emanating from a rumoured power-sharing agreement between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar plus their one-upmanship. Before forming the government, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar were engaged in a week-long tug-of-war for the CM’s chair. Finally, Congress decided to make Siddaramaiah, a Kuruba, the CM.

Siddaramaiah points to high command

Reacting to this on the sidelines of the event, Siddaramaiah lobbed the subject to the Congress’ high command. "Congress is a high command party, alright? We’re in a democracy. We’ll do whatever the high command decides,” he said.

After the event, the pontiff doubled down on his demand for Shivakumar to become the CM. “Shivakumar did all the hard work, organised the party and ensured 135 seats to the Congress. Siddaramaiah hasn’t worked as hard as Shivakumar. Since Siddaramaiah has already enjoyed power, it’ll be good if Shivakumar becomes CM,” Chandrashekaranatha Swami told reporters.

Stop talking about deputies, ministers told

Siddaramaiah is said to have asked his ministers to stop making public statements on appointing additional deputy CMs, a topic that has riled Shivakumar.

Specifically, Siddaramaiah spoke to Cooperation Minister KN Rajanna over phone and warned him not to make any more statements on the topic.

Shivakumar is the lone deputy chief minister. But Rajanna was vocal about the need to have more deputies from the Veerashaiva-Lingayat, SC/ST and minority communities.

Apparently, Siddaramaiah said statements on additional deputy CMs would “negatively impact” the government and the party.

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Published 27 June 2024, 10:38 IST

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