Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday asked MLAs not to project him as the Chief Ministerial face for the 2023 assembly polls, amid
widening fissures within the party on the issue, that has triggered a game of one-upmanship between him and state unit President D K Shivakumar.
His statement came amid a growing list of MLAs who openly favoured him as CM face despite diktat from the party leadership, which has irked Shivakumar, who is also nursing Chief Ministerial ambitions.
“I don’t know, I don’t want to react to that… I have never said that I will become Chief Minister, but I will still request MLAs don’t make statements (projecting me as) next Chief Minister,” Siddaramaiah said in response to a question on Shivakumar’s statement asking him to rein in MLAs
projecting him as next CM.
On returning from New Delhi after meeting party’s national leaders, Shivakumar on Wednesday said Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah will look into open statements by some MLAs projecting him.
“…party high command has said what it has to, I have also seen statements by some MLAs in the media. Legislature Party leader (Siddaramaiah) will look into it. If he does not, the party is there to look into it,” he had said, adding that he was in no urgency to become the CM and bringing the party to power was his goal.
Siddaramaiah, who is now the leader of opposition in the Assembly, however, playing down statements by some MLAs projecting him as the next CM and maintaining it as their personal views, on Wednesday said “I can’t do anything about it…I’m not concerned about it.”
Meanwhile, indicating that the CM position is not fixed to anyone, Shivakumar, responding to a question on Thursday, said “in our political history there are examples of people other than 224 elected members to the assembly, becoming the Chief Minister.”
“Devraj Urs had not won the election, didn’t he become the Chief Minister? Ramakrishna Hegde had not contested the assembly polls, didn’t he become the Chief Minister…..” he said.
On the other hand, former KPCC President G Parameshwara, when questioned whether he was in the CM race, merely said, “let that situation come”, and called on all MLAs and leaders to stop discussing the next CM and work towards building the party. The former Deputy Chief Minister said, when his supporters called out his name and tried to project him as the next CM at an event, he advised them against doing it.
The election was two years away and the tradition followed once the party wins is that a CLP meeting will be called and MLAs adopt a one-line resolution authorising the party high command to decide on the leader, Parameshwara said.
“The high command after discussing with incharge and leaders, finally decides on a name who has the ability,” he said, pointing out that earlier there was convention in the party that PCC presidents used to become CM. Congress legislators B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan (Chamarajpet), Raghavendra Hitnal (Koppal), J N Ganesh (Kampli) and Bhima Naik (Hagaribommanahalli), S Ramappa (Harihar) and R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy (Pulakeshinagar) have openly expressed their opinion in favour of Siddaramaiah as the next CM.
A video has today surfaced, where another Congress MLA Byrathi Suresh from Hebbal constituency can be purportedly heard addressing Siddaramaiah as a “permanent CM”.
Their statements have come despite AICC General Secretary in-charge of the State Randeep Singh Surjewala and Shivakumar’s diktat to party legislators and leaders not to make such open remarks.