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How Congress's Chanakya stumped Amit Shah

Last updated on: May 19, 2018 19:09 IST

This was the second time D K Shivakumar foiled Amit A Shah's plans, reports Syed Firdaus Ashraf.

IMAGE: Janata Dal-Secular leader H D Kumaraswamy, left, and Congress leader D K Shivakumar celebrate after B S Yeddyurappa announced his resignation before the floor test, at the Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru, May 19, 2018. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

As soon as B S Yeddyurappa resigned as chief minister on Saturday, May 19, ahead of the Supreme Court mandated trust vote, two men were seen raising their hands in triumph in the assembly.

One was the man expected to be the next chief minister of Karnataka, H D Kumaraswamy, the Janata Dal-Secular leader.

The other was Doddalahalli Kempegowda Shivakumar, the MLA from Kanakapura.

Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit A Shah is considered the Chanakya of Indian politics, but there is a new challenger on the horizon.

Shivakumar, energy minister in the Siddaramaiah ministry, is the man who achieved Saturday's outcome for the Congress party, coming in the way of Shah's grand plans for the second time.


It was thanks to his shepherding of the Congress and JD-S legislators that the BJP's Operation Lotus in the state came a cropper.

From day one of the current crisis, which began with the election results on May 15, Shivakumar has been saying, 'Not one member from the Congress and JD-S will cross over to the BJP. I have managed Maharashtra and Gujarat MLAs, just wait and watch.'

On Tuesday, May 15, when the Congress leadership realised that the BJP would fall short of a simple majority, and once former Congress president Sonia Gandhi sealed it with a phone call to JD-S national president H D Deve Gowda, it was a phone call from Ghulam Nabi Azad to Kumaraswamy offering him the chief ministership that did the trick.

As soon as Kumaraswamy agreed, Shivakumar became the go-to man to see the alliance through.

A well-known Vokkaliga leader, Shivakumar, known to friends as 'DK-Shi', is an old hand in resort politics.

One of the richest Indian politicians with a declared wealth of Rs 840 crore (Rs 8.4 billion), Shivakumar was tasked with preserving the new-found unity among Congress and JD-S legislators, and he accomplished it in style.

The first time he played saviour for the Congress was in 2002, when the then Vilasrao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra was reduced to a minority and was instructed by then governor Dr P C Alexander to prove its majority in the House.

Deshmukh took 70 Congress MLAs to Bangalore to ensure that his flock stayed together before the crucial vote of no-confidence -- Shivakumar arranged for their travel and stay. Thanks to him, Deshmukh could tide over the crisis.

The second time round, Shivakumar went head-to-head with Amit A Shah, who was hell-bent on defeating his old rival from Gujarat, Ahmed Patel, in the Rajya Sabha elections in August last year.

Realising that Shah would stop at nothing to ensure Patel's defeat, the Congress party flew all 44 MLAs from Gujarat to a Bengaluru resort for safekeeping.

Shivakumar once again managed the entire operation, which finally ensured that Ahmed Patel won his Rajya Sabha seat.

After Ahmed Patel's victory, The Times of India quoted Shivakumar as telling reporters, 'Patelji called me in the morning and said he owes his victory to my effort. While acknowledging his humility, I replied that it was the party's collective victory and not of any individual.'

Retribution soon followed in the form of income tax raids on Shivakumar and his brother, Congress MP D K Suresh, but nothing came of it.

Not one to be fazed by this, Shivakumar didn't hesitate to play a crucial role in ensuring that the BJP did not succeed in raiding the Congress-JD-S ranks in Karnataka.

And in the process seal his reputation as the new Chanakya in Indian politics.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf