KPCC post: Can Siddaramaiah stave off DK Shivakumar challenge?

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader said, \"No doubt Shivakumar is lobbying hard to secure the coveted post.\"

Bengaluru: With barely a year to go for the Assembly polls, the race for the top post in the state Congress has reached frenzied levels with supporters of the top contenders-former IT/BT minister S.R. Patil and Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar lobbying hard with new AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal, who would however give no indication of what was on his mind and flashed a wide smile to any probing queries.

A major development on Tuesday was the indirect support lent by incumbent KPCC president Dr G. Parameshwar’s supporters to Shivakumar, with some of them openly speaking in favour of the Vokkaliga strongman, who they claim now has the backing of a majority of district leaders.

The Kerala MP however held a string of meetings with district level leaders, legislators, MPs and ministers and made it more than evident that if Dr Parameshwar was to be replaced, the final decision on his successor would be made in Delhi. The Congress top brass will have to do a balancing act in a state where caste equations are paramount with Patil and Shivakumar belonging to the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities respectively. They also have contrasting styles of functioning with Patil known for his quiet and non-controversial nature compared to the irrepressible and dynamic Shivakumar, who enjoys huge support among young party workers and is one of the wealthiest Congress leaders in the state.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader said, "No doubt Shivakumar is lobbying hard to secure the coveted post. It also seems like the Parameshwar camp is reconciled to the fact that if their leader does not get an extension, they would prefer backing Shivakumar, who could be the ideal foil to the CM."

But the KPCC president and the CM are bound by duty to work as a well-knit team in a poll year and the CM’s choice is sure to weigh heavily on Venugopal’ s mind.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's camp, sources said, is in no mood to accept Shivakumar’s elevation as PCC chief, knowing that it will create an alternate power centre and a powerful one at that, ahead of the crucial polls.

Even Channapattana MLA, C. P. Yogeshwar is reportedly upset with his "overbearing nature", sources said, adding he and is on the verge of quitting the Congress ahead of the poll. “In such a situation, how can we expect Shivakumar to do justice to the KPCC chief’s post?," wondered CM loyalists while interacting with the media on Tuesday. All is not lost for Dr Parameshwar either with some senior leaders arguing that he should be allowed to continue rather than upset the apple-cart. " Replacing Dr Parameshwar would send a wrong signal to the Dalits, particularly after Dalit veteran V. Srinivasprasad switched sides to the BJP recently," felt a leader. Finally, the question boils down to caste clout and funding power - which will the Congress leadership prefer in the run-up to the polls?

It will also deprive Siddaramaiah of the leverage he would very much like to have while choosing candidates. There are not many in the CM’s camp who are too taken with Shivakumar's flamboyant style as they feel it does not always pay in politics. There are others who aver that he lacks in the trust quotient and has not been able to ensure the victory of Congress candidates beyond his own seat in Ramanagara, unlike his mentor S.M. Krishna who is now in the BJP. In Ramanagara which has four four constituencies - Kanakapura, Channapattana, Magadi and Ramanagara – all that DKS has been able to do for the Congress is a win in Kanakapura.

DKS doesn’t fit the bill, says CM
Murmurs of dissent have already begun in the dominant Lingayat community over the poor representation for their leaders in the organisation and a negative vote against the Congress is sure to hurt the party badly. There is also a line of thinking emerging in the party that deep pockets alone cannot win elections. "What we need is a humble face who can carry all sections of the party with him. Leaders with huge resources are sure to have ego hassles and may end up doing more harm to the party than good," felt a staunch supporter of Siddaramaiah, dropping hints that the CM knows exactly the kind of leader he wants as PCC president - and Shivakumar definitely does not fit the bill.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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