Race for Karnataka CM's post; Siddaramaiah leaves for Delhi to meet with AICC leaders

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Congress leader Siddaramaiah reacts as the party leads in Assembly polls in the early trends on the vote counting day, in Mysuru, Saturday, May 13, 2023 | Photo: PTI

Bengaluru: Amid the intense race for the Chief Minister's post involving his party colleague DK Shivkumar, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah left for Delhi on Monday to meet AICC leaders.

His visit comes a day after the after the Congress' newly elected legislators authorised AICC President M Mallikarjun Kharge to decide on the party's CM pick.

Earlier on Monday, Congress Observer Sushil Kumar Shinde had said both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar would be called to Delhi for consultations, if required.

The Congress won the May 10 Assembly elections, winning 135 seats.

According to party sources, the 75-year-old Siddaramaiah left for the national capital by a special flight to meet senior party leaders.

"We observers along with Congress general secretary and in-charge of Karnataka Randeep Singh Surjewala and general secretary (organisation) [K C Venugopal] will go to Delhi," Shinde earlier told reporters here.

"Our report (based on feedback received at the Congress Legislaure Party meeting) is secret, which we can't divulge. Only our party president Mallikarjun Kharge can reveal," he added.

According to Congress sources, some legislators shared their opinion on their CM preference to the central observers in person during the meeting of the CLP, while the others who were hesitant to share their views face-to-face were given the option of doing so in writing.

"It was a kind of secret ballot in which one could share their opinion choosing between Shivakumar or Siddaramaiah, or any other third leader, or leave it to the decision of the high command," an MLA-elect said on condition of anonymity.

It is said that while a section of MLAs wanted to choose their leader at the meeting by raising hands, the party decided against it as it might create "open division".

Siddaramaiah is learnt to have stressed on getting the opinion of all MLAs before the party high command decides on the new CLP leader, who will subsequently head the government as CM.

Kharge had deputed Maharashtra ex-CM Shinde, AICC General Secretary Jitendra Singh and former AICC general secretary Deepak Babaria as observers for the election of the CLP leader.

Jitendra Singh said, "we will make a report and submit it to the Congress president. We have talked to all the MLAs in detail till midnight. Decision will be taken only after handing over the report."

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council B K Hariprasad said that with the three central observers having taken the feedback from all MLAs, the party high command will now decide on the next chief minister.

"Observers met and took feedback from MLAs one-to-one yesterday night. There was open feedback and also a secret ballot for the CM's name. Now, the party high command will decide who will be the CM," Hariprasad said.

The CLP at its meeting on Sunday unanimously passed a resolution authorising Kharge to choose the new chief minister of the State.

In the May 10 polls to the 224-member Assembly, the Congress won 135 seats, the BJP 66 and the JD (S) 19. The results were declared on May 13.


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