What does Siddaramaiah need to do if he has to continue as the chief minister of Karnataka? He has to win the Congress 20 seats, and sources within the party tell Rediff.com, and that he is under a lot of pressure. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
The upcoming Lok Sabha election will be a unique test for Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Although the leader is not contesting the election, he needs to ensure that the Congress puts up a really good show in order to save his seat.
Many eyebrows were raised when Siddaramaiah was selected the chief minister after Congress routed the Bharatiya Janata Party in the southern state last year, and many wondered how did the man -- who’s been with the party for just five years -- grab the coveted post.
However, many knew at that time that his honeymoon period will be short-lived and ultimately his fate would depend on the 2014 Lok Sabha elections verdict.
So what does Siddaramaiah need to do if he has to continue as the chief minister of Karnataka? He has to win the Congress 20 seats, and sources within the party tell Rediff.com, and that he is under a lot of pressure.
Siddaramaiah has been going around campaigning for the Congress candidates and says at every rally that the “Modi wave” is a fiction of one’s imagination. He does not speak much about the developmental work in Karnataka as there is nothing really to tom-tom about.
However, he does harp about the manner in which the BJP had functioned when it was in power in the state and how “he has brought everything under control to ensure a smooth administration”.
For Siddaramaiah to continue as the chief minister, the Congress needs to win anything between 17 to 20 out of total 28 seats, and if they do so, the party will be satisfied that he has had his impact.
Many analysts say that the Congress has always been looking for an excuse to replace him and have someone who has been a loyalist for over two decades in the seat of power.
This brings us to the question as to why did the Congress appoint him as the chief minister in the first place if the whole thing was so conditional? Siddaramaiah, as opposed to the claims in the media last year, enjoyed the support of just 20 to 25 MLAs while the claim being made was that he had the backing of 75.
Siddaramaiah had announced that he was contesting his last elections and before he went out he wanted to be the CM. He has been the deputy CM when he was with the Janata Dal-Secular, and when he was overlooked by Deve Gowda, who preferred his son Kumaraswamy to be the chief minister, he quit the party and joined the Congress in 2009.
The Congress despite all these factors was not convinced that he should be the CM since he was an “outsider”. However, what deterred the Congress from overlooking him was the fact that he was ready to create a major ruckus with his 20-odd supporters. The Congress at any cost did not want this considering the fact that they had won the Karnataka elections largely due to the infighting within the previous government run by the BJP. This is what got Siddaramaiah through.
Now it is battle time for him again and he has to safeguard his seat. What works in Siddaramaiah’s favour is that he will be able to polarise the minority and OBC votes thanks to his various schemes that have appeased them.
Then there is Railway Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President G Parameshwar eyeing the post. These two leaders have eternally been with the Congress and could be considered for the post if Siddaramaiah fails to deliver 17 to 20 seats.