Karnataka: War of words erupt between Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah camps over CM candidate
In response to party MLA B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan's statement that the state's people wanted Siddaramaiah to be the next chief minister, Shivakumar urged everyone to 'keep their mouths shut and work to bring the party to power.
Squabbling in the Congress' Karnataka unit continued between leaders loyal to state president D K Shivakumar and former chief minister Siddaramaiah over who should be the chief minister if the party wins power in next year's Assembly elections, with the former urging party members to 'first work to bring the party to power.'
In response to party MLA B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan's statement that the state's people wanted Siddaramaiah to be the next chief minister, Shivakumar urged everyone to 'keep their mouths shut and work to bring the party to power.'
"I will only speak of those on my level. Everyone should keep quiet and work hard to bring the party to power," said Shivakumar, responding to Khan's statement expressing support for Siddaramaiah.
Although the state Assembly elections are about 10 months away, the question of the Congress's chief ministerial candidate has been a source of contention between the camps led by Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, resulting in a war of words.
When asked if he was issuing the directive specifically to Khan, Shivakumar, MLA from Ramanagara's Kanakapura constituency, said, "This is something I'm telling everyone. First, you bring the party to power by attracting members from all communities and organising your community first."
"As a leader, if you care about the party, stop worshipping individuals and start bringing people to the party," he continued.
On the other hand, the Congress state chief stressed that there is nothing wrong with 224 MLAs in Karnataka wanting to become chief minister.
In response to Shivakumar's statement, Khan stated that it was the KPCC chief (Shivakumar) who sparked the debate within the party by seeking support for himself in public.
"Who started this debate? he asked his community to give him a chance at an event in the Vokkaliga community. We began talking after he made his statement. This issue had never been raised before," Khan told media in Belagavi.
He also stated that Muslim leaders admired Siddaramaiah and wished to see him re-elected as chief minister. The final decision, however, will be made by the party's high command.
"Ours is a party with a strong command structure. Nobody else in this room has the authority to make a decision. No one else can decide except Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. I expressed my personal view. There is nothing wrong with expressing my views," Khan stated.
According to Khan, MLA from Bengaluru's Chamarajpet constituency, everyone wants to be chief minister, but only the one who can bring all communities along with him can lead the state.
He also stated that both group and individual worship are required.
Responding to a question about the internal strife, party veteran Mallikarjun Kharge stated that the party high command would decide on the next chief minister.
"It is not up to you or me to decide who should be the next Chief Minister. It is the prerogative of the party's high command. First, we must rebuild the party so it can reclaim power," said Kharge in Kalaburagi.
The Siddaramaiah camp is organising the 'Siddaramotsava' in Davangere on August 3 to commemorate their leader's 75th birthday, and MLAs supporting him, including Khan, R V Deshpande, and others, are touring the state to ensure the event's success.