Congress clears air, says will fight Karnataka assembly polls under CM Siddaramaiah | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Congress clears air, says will fight Karnataka assembly polls under CM Siddaramaiah

The Congress’ announcement to fight the upcoming elections under Siddaramaiah is a rare move in the Congress as the grand old party does not name its chief ministerial candidates a year in advance.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2017 09:52 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Karnataka chief minister K Siddaramaiah.
Karnataka chief minister K Siddaramaiah.(HT File Phot)

The Congress will fight the 2018 assembly elections in Karnataka under chief minister K Siddaramaiah, the party announced on Wednesday.

It also asked state Congress president and home minister G Parameshwara to immediately resign from the cabinet and devote full time and energy in strengthening the organisation while discharging his responsibilities as the party chief.

However, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, a known detractor of Siddaramaiah, has not been given any role in the organisational affairs in his home state.

The party also appointed two working presidents to help Parameshwara in organisational matters. While Dinesh Gundu Rao will look after south Karnataka, SR Patil will manage the northern part of the state. State minister DK Shivakumar has been named as the chairman of the campaign committee. The changes came nearly a month after the Congress leadership divested general secretary Digvijaya Singh of the charge of Karnataka and appointed KC Venugopal in his place.

The announcement to fight the upcoming elections under Siddaramaiah is a rare move in the Congress as the grand old party does not name its chief ministerial candidates a year in advance.

Usually, the age-old practice in the Congress is to keep the leadership issue open and alive as there are several claimants for the chief minister’s post in a state, and let the elected legislators authorise the Congress high command to take a decision.

However, the party had in the past few years deviated from this practice in select cases and named Captain Amarinder Singh as its face in Punjab, Virbhadra Singh in Himachal Pradesh, Tarun Gogoi in Assam and Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand. While these announcements that came a few months before the polls paid dividends in case of Amarinder and Virbhadra, the party lost badly in Assam and Uttarakhand.

By clearing the air about the CM candidate, the Congress high command has not only silenced Siddaramaiah’s detractors but also put on him the onus of retaining power in Karnataka, one of the seven states and the only big one held by the party as of now.

It was in the 2013 elections that the Congress won 121 seats in the 224-member assembly with Siddaramaiah as its face.

In other changes, LS MP and former union minister KH Muniyappa has been inducted in the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision making body. After Kharge, Oscar Fernandes, BK Hariprasad and MV Rajasekharan, he is the fifth CWC member from Karnataka.

Former minister Satish Jarkiholi, who was reportedly hobnobbing with the JD (S) after being dropped from the state cabinet, has been appointed as a party secretary.

The move to remove Parameshwara from the state cabinet is part of the Congress’ strategy to strictly enforce its one-man one- post norm in the party. While carrying out a major reshuffle in its Karnataka unit, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have also sought to maintain a balance between different castes though no Muslim leader could find a place in the top hierarchy.