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DK Shivakumar's brief as KPCC chief: Bring back the Vokkaliga vote

Posted March 13th, 2020, 10:15 AM IST

DK Shivakumar's brief as KPCC chief: Bring back the Vokkaliga vote

The factional war within the Karnataka Congress -- which can be described as Migrants v the Rest – is far from over with the appointment of D K Shivakumar as KPCC president.

While former chief minister Siddaramaiah has been allowed to have the dual posts of Congress Legislature Party leader and leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, his demand for a major share of the KPCC posts has not been met.

Senior party leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and A K Antony are likely to be deputed to Karnataka to pacify Siddaramaiah so that his supporters cooperate with Shivakumar.

Though Shivakumar's appointment was in the air for some time, it was stalled by the Siddaraamaiah group -- with the help of Karnataka point man K C Venugopal -- after Rahul Gandhi returned from self-imposed exile.

When it started looking inevitable that old-timers would be given their due, Siddaramaiah sought a major share of the KPCC posts in the new team. Apart from his loyalist Satish Jarkiholi, Siddaramaiah wanted M B Patil, a Lingayat, as the second working president and either Zameer Ahamed Khan or U T Khader as the third.

However, the party decided to continue Eshwar Khandre, a Lingayat, as the working president, while long-time loyalist Saleem Ahamed was made third working president.

Earlier, Siddaramaiah and his supporters pitched for a Lingayat KPCC president, pushing the name of M B Patil. It was a strategy to break the Lingayat vote bank, which is strongly behind the BJP.

The argument was that the BJP high command may unseat Yediyurappa anytime and then the Lingayats would desert the BJP. So to have a Lingayat KPCC president would be attract that constituency.

However, the Congress high command took its own decision and ensured a caste balance as recommended by Siddaramaiah.

Shivakumar’s appointment means that the Congress high command has turned to a Vokkaliga as KPCC president after 21 years. It was in 1999 that S M Krishna was appointed to the same post and he went on to become chief minister.

Shivakumar has a very big challenge ahead. He has to bring back to the Congress the Vokkaliga vote bank, which deserted the party in 2004. After the S M Krishna regime, the Vokkaliga vote base of the Congress has shifted to the Janata Dal (Secular).