Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar hugged party heavyweight Siddaramaiah on his 75th birthday in a public show of unity and bonhomie on Wednesday, prompting Rahul Gandhi to express happiness.
Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah are considered front-runners for the chief minister's post in the event of Congress coming to power after assembly elections, due in April-May next year.
Though both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar have on record maintained that the CM will be decided by party's newly elected MLAs and high command on gaining majority in the polls, their loyalists and supporters have been projecting their leader, leading to unease in the party.
Speaking at a mega event to celebrate his birthday, Siddaramaiah asserted that the talk that there is a rift between him and Shivakumar is an "illusion and creation" of opposition parties.
"Shivakumar and I are together. There is no difference of opinion among us," he said.
Shivakumar, in his speech, said the Congress has decided to fight the assembly elections under collective leadership.
"Today, I was happy to see Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar hugging each other on the stage," Rahul Gandhi said at the event after Shivakumar felicitated Siddaramaiah, a former chief minister, on his 75th birthday and hugged him in the presence of Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi said Shivakumar has done tremendous work for the Congress organisation.
Virtually sounding the poll bugle, he said: "The Congress party is completely united to defeat BJP and RSS in Karnataka."
When the Congress comes to power, it will give a "clean and honest" government which will work for the future of the state and it will not spread hatred, Gandhi said.
Referring to three murders with alleged communal overtones in the coastal region of the State in the last few days, he said such type of violence had not taken place in Karnataka in the past.
"When we ask people in the United States what do they think of Karnataka today, they will say to you that Karnataka never witnessed the type of violence it is facing today," he said.
"They will say to you that when Congress was in power, Karnataka was in harmony," Gandhi added.
Greeting Siddaramaiah on his birthday, he said: "He is one person who looks younger as he grows older."