Following day long parleys with around 18 senior leaders from Karnataka, the Congress high command, in all likelihood, is said to maintain the status-quo, by continuing G Parameshwara as the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president. 

On Monday, AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi held one on one interactions  with the senior leaders in New Delhi -- including the four contenders for the KPCC post. Though a formal announcement to this effect is yet to be made, it has emerged that Ministers D K Shivakumar and M B Patil, and MLC S R Patil, have been pushed out of the race, with the Central leadership apprehensive about upsetting the apple cart. It has decided to continue with a Dalit at the helm, yielding to the time and tested vote bank politics. 

M B Patil, who holds the Water Resources portfolio, is said to have opted himself out of the race as he was unwilling to forsake his cabinet rank. It is however interesting to note that despite strong recommendations, both S R Patil and Shivakumar were not considered for the post, despite them representing the dominant Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities. While Patil was backed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah himself, Shivakumar had successfully impressed upon AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka, K C Venugopal and his team.

It is reliably learnt that Venugopal and his team of four secretaries had furnished a report to the high command in favour of Shivakumar. Sources said that the team had opined that “change” was imperative at a juncture when the State was going for elections in less than a year. 

“The report states that a majority of the leaders and workers felt that Shivakumar has good organisational skills, and that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too felt the same. While most of the party cadre felt that Patil was mild, lacking the required skill sets, there was a consensus that Parameshwara should not be continued, as he has been at the helm for over six years,” said a leader who is privy to the contents of the report. 

 

So what made the central leadership overlook both Siddaramaiah’s and Venugopal’s choice?
Party insiders said that there was major opposition from senior leaders to the appointment of both these leaders. While certain leaders felt that Siddaramaiah would attain complete control over the party and ticket distribution, if Patil were to be appointed; it is learnt that all of the senior leaders who met with the junior Gandhi were unanimously opposed to Shivakumar’s appointment.

Leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Oscar Fernandes, B K Hariprasad, K H Muniyappa, Veerappa Moily, and Siddaramaiah, felt that Shivakumar would become “untenable” if he is at the helm. Siddaramaiah was most threatened by Shivakumar’s appointment, as it would have led to the creation of two power centers. So severe was his opposition to Shivakumar that Siddaramaiah is said to have given his nod to Parameshwara’s appointment - despite his rivalry with the latter.
One of the strong factors that is said to have worked against Shivakumar is the corruption charges that he is facing. The BJP at the Centre would definitely use it against him, which would be a major setback to the party, it was felt.

It was also felt that if Shivakumar was appointed, then the Congress would face difficulties in forming a truck with the JD(S), if in case it failed to gain an absolute majority. Shivakumar and the Gowda family are arch rivals. Denying that he was vying for the post, Shivakumar said that he was never an aspirant. He however contradicted himself by saying that this was not the end of the road for him. “This is not the end. I have made several sacrifices in the past for the party, and will continue to do so. I will cooperate with whoever the party appoints, and the fight the elections unitedly to keep the BJP away. I am happy even if Parameshwara is continued,” he added. Siddaramaiah has said that no decision has been arrived upon, and that the high command would make an announcement in a day or two.