DK Shivakumar has an uphill task as Karnataka Congress chief

Deccan Chronicle.  | vinay madhav

Nation, Crime

The party has almost lost its complete base in coastal and malnad regions and rebuilding it is an uphill task

DK Shivakumar takes charge as Congress state unit president in an online event. (PTI photo)

Three months after being designated as KPCC President, former minister D K Shivakumar took over as Karnataka Congress head on Thursday, with pomp.

The digital connectivity of the taking over, which reached over 10 lakh party workers and supporters was termed as biggest digital rally in the country.
 It had been a tough choice for Karnataka Congress, elevating it's senior leader D K Shivakumar as State unit President. When it did, the party troubleshooter was facing the tougher task of holding the flock together.

The announcement came when the country was facing COVID-19 entry and subsequent lockdown forced him to remain `designated president' and still waiting for the day to take over. After dilly dallying, the government also gave consent for holding a virtual rally and a function for take over and now, he has officially taken oath on Thursday.

Though Shivakumar has already started organising the party in various levels, he has a handful of problems within the party itself. In the first place, his choice has not gone well with former chief minister Mr Siddaramaiah and his supporters.
Eversince Siddaramaiah entered Congress from JD(S), there has been a division among native and migrant Congress.

It went on even during JD(S)-Congress coalition government, resulting in the fall of the government. The Congress decided to shed its dependency on Siddarmaaih and his `AHINDA' vote bank formula, as it had lost its sheen. Siddaramaiah's group is further irked by the party's decision to sideline his candidates for Legislative Council and nominate B K Hariprasad and Naseer Ahamed, who belong to native Congress group.

Meanwhile, Shivakumar's plan is to unite 'secular forces' in the Old Mysuru region of South Karnataka during the next election. He has been maintaining a good relationship with JD(S) led by former Prime Minister Mr H D Deve Gowda. However, this will never go well with Siddaramaiah supporters. Though `AHINDA'

force of Siddaramaiah is fading, he has a group of followers, who are anti-Gowda camp. They work to ensure defeat of JD(S) and Deve Gowda family, rather than victory of Congress or secular forces.

Most of the time, this has worked in favor of BJP. Consequently, they ensured defeat of Nikhil Kumaraswamy in Mandya Parliamentary seat, while BJP got a breakthrough into Mandya district for the first time during last by-election, where BJP won from K R Pet constituency.
It is not just the Old-Mysore region where Shivakumar is facing problems. In Mumbai-Karnataka, he has two problems.

In the Hubli-Dharwad region, he has a long standing feud with H K Patil, who will not easily accept the leadership of Shivakumar. In Belagavi region, his closeness to Laxmi Hebbalkar has invited wrath of the Jarkiholi family, which is very close to Siddaramaiah. These factors are likely to trigger pro and anti Shivakumar camp wars in the region.

The party has almost lost its complete base in coastal and malnad regions and rebuilding it is an uphill task. In Hyderabad-Karnataka region, Congress is strong but BJP is steadily gaining ground. The region, which was once dominated by senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge is slowly facing rebels within the party.

Despite teething problems, Congress has no alternative leader, who can either face the 'onslaught' of BJP or the challenges posed within the party. All that the party hopes is for Shivakumar overcoming the million challenges he is facing in the State.

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