Congress crisis: M B Patil bats for Siddaramaiah

Congress crisis: M B Patil bats for Siddaramaiah

Congress leader M B Patil. (DH File Photo)

Congress leader M B Patil on Friday hailed former chief minister Siddaramaiah as the “party’s mass leader” and made a strong pitch for him to play a key role, even as the high command looks at resolving the ongoing leadership crisis. 

Siddaramaiah has tendered his resignation as the Congress Legislature Party leader and as Leader of the Opposition. Dinesh Gundu Rao too has stepped down as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president. 

The high command, which is yet to take a call on their resignations, is under pressure as hectic lobbying is underway in the faction-ridden party. 

“Siddaramaiah’s leadership is inevitable. We must keep him as we go ahead. He’s the mass leader in the party,” Patil said. He added veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s guidance was necessary. “Under them, we need to face the next elections.” Patil is identified as a Siddaramaiah loyalist and is in the race to become the next KPCC president. “I met AICC president Sonia Gandhi recently and explained the position...everyone and all communities need to be taken together. I told her what permutation, combination and communities we need,” he said. 

According to sources, the other front-runner for the KPCC president’s post is D K Shivakumar, a Vokkaliga from the southern part of the state. Patil, a Lingayat, comes from north Karnataka.  

The Lingayats, a dominant community, have moved away from the Congress after the unceremonious dismissal of the Veerendra Patil government in 1990. “Not just the Lingayats, but other communities have also moved away for various reasons. We need to bring them back,” Patil said. 

How the high command strikes balance among the Lingayats, Vokkaligas and Dalits is another challenge. Patil said the high command may take a decision on the posts in another 4-5 days. 

Another leader aspiring to become the party president is Eshwar Khandre, who is currently the KPCC working president. “The ball is in the court of the high command. All communities have placed a demand (for one of their own to be made the president). A decision is expected soon,” he said. 

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