Power struggle within Karnataka Congress comes to the fore


Team Udayavani, Jan 22, 2020, 9:57 AM IST

Bengaluru: The power struggle in Karnataka Congress has come to the fore with senior leaders openly contradicting each other on appointments for key posts, even as the party continues to remain in a “virtual vacuum” with the new President and CLP leader yet to be announced.

The development is also being seen as a fight between the old guards and senior leader Siddaramaiah to strengthen their grip over the state Congress, party sources said.

Siddaramaiah has said the Congress Legislature Party leader and Leader of the Opposition posts should not be “separated” and be held by one person, amid reports that the high command was mulling appointing a new CLP leader while continuing with him as LoP.

He is also said to have pushed for the creation of four KPCC Working President posts after reportedly getting to know that his loyalists will not be made the party-state unit President.

However, several senior leaders, largely old guards like G Parameshwara, H K Patil and K H Muniyappa, aspirants for the key posts, have openly opposed Siddaramaiah’s suggestions.

CLP leader Siddaramaiah and state Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao had quit their posts last month after the party posted a poor show, winning only two of the 15 seats in the bypolls while it had held 12 of them.

However, the resignations have not yet been accepted by the high command.

Siddaramaiah’s statement on Friday opening that the post of CLP leader and LOP should be held by one person has resulted in senior leaders expressing opposing views.

Senior party legislator H K Patil, seen as an aspirant for the CLP leader post, pointed out that during the coalition government, G Parameshwara from the party was Deputy Chief Minister while Siddaramaiah was the CLP leader.

“In the centre too, while madam (Sonia Gandhi) was the Congress Parliamentary Party leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge were leaders of the party in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively (in previous Lok Sabha).”

Patil pointed out that in Maharashtra too, the posts of CLP leader and LoP were held by different people until recently.

So a similar system should be followed as Congress is a national party, he said adding that the one President and one Working President system in Karnataka now should continue.

Veteran leader and vocal Siddaramaiah critic Muniyappa said that with many capable senior leaders aspiring for key posts, opportunity can be given to some, if not everyone, by splitting CLP and LOP and creating more positions of working presidents.

Pitching for collective leadership, Muniyappa, an aspirant for the KPCC President post, said there was no problem in having one or two working presidents as it would help the President work effectively.

Conceding there is confusion in Congress, former Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara,also seen as an aspirant for the CLP post, while welcoming the reported move to separate the posts, had opined there need not be any Working President and the same responsibility can be given to senior Vice Presidents Siddaramaiah, in his reaction, while maintaining that the high command would decide on appointments, merely said talks on him demanding four working presidents was a media creation and that he has communicated his opinion to the high command.

“Isn’t there a Working President now? Are we creating it new? Earlier too there were Working Presidents who said there should be four Working Presidents? You (media) are saying it. I have given my opinion (to the high command), can I discuss it publicly?” he asked.

The former Chief Minister also termed Parameshwara’s statement that CLP and LOP posts should be separated as his “personal opinion”.

Sources said that Siddaramaiah, wary of his clout in the party reducing, with the possibilities of his confidant not being made KPCC President, and CLP and LOP position being separated, is pushing for both posts remaining with one person and creation of multiple working presidents.

His supporters are pitching for their leader to be retained as both LOP and CLP leader.

Senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar is seen as front runner for the KPCC chief post,but sources said Siddaramaiah is said to have pitched for his confidant and senior leader M B Patil for the post and had recently met Congress President Sonia Gandhi in this regard.

Both Siddaramaiah and resigned KPCC chief Rao had faced resentment within the party as many senior leaders were upset over their alleged unilateral style of functioning and selection of candidates for bypolls.

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