With the Congress central leadership likely to pick Siddaramaiah as the Karnataka chief minister, the party’s state unit chief D K Shivakumar on Monday cancelled his Delhi visit, conveying to the party leadership that he was upset that they reneged on the promises made to him and sent his “best wishes” to his rival.
Siddramaiah landed in Delhi earlier in the day, but Shivakumar deferred his visit, attributing the delay in reaching Delhi to his birthday celebrations. By evening, Shivakumar cancelled his Delhi visit, stating that he had an upset stomach. “I have some problem in my stomach. A doctor is coming in ten minutes. It’s burning. It looks like some infection, and I have fever... please let me be free…” Shivakumar told reporters.
Later, he told a private news channel that he felt betrayed. “Sonia Gandhi told me, ‘I have confidence in you that you will deliver Karnataka’. I am sitting here, doing my regular responsibility,” he told NDTV.
In Delhi, party leaders wracked their brains at Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s residence, trying to work out a way to appease Shivakumar, considered by many in the party to have been instrumental in its dominant performance in the Old Mysuru region.
Amid speculations about the number of MLAs supporting him and Siddaramaiah for the CM’s post, Shivakumar said earlier on Monday that his strength is 135, as under his presidency, the party won these numbers of Assembly segments.
According to another camp in the Congress, at least 80 of the MLAs supported Siddaramaiah’s leadership when the party’s central observers took their view on Sunday. The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Bengaluru on Sunday later authorised the party president to decide on the CM nominee.
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Shivakumar rejected questions about indulging in bargaining but suggested he should get his due for keeping the party together during a tough time. “A single man with courage makes a majority, and I have proved it. I don’t want to disclose what has happened in the last five years,” he told reporters. “When our MLAs left the party, I did not lose heart and took the responsibility with courage. Mallikarjun Kharge is the senior leader and Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have confidence in us. We will leave the matter to them,” he said.
Party sources said they were working out a compromise formula, including allocation of portfolios, such as revenue, irrigation and public works department.