The Karnataka Congress is a “united house” and it will fight the assembly polls next year on its own under a “collective leadership”, party’s state unit chief D K Shivakumar said on Thursday.
In an interview with PTI, Shivakumar said he is least bothered about who becomes chief minister and his mandate is to deliver Karnataka to the Congress in the polls for the betterment of the state.
There have been reports recently of differences between Shivakumar and former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah who are considered front-runners for the chief minister’s post if the Congress comes 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 the party’s newly-elected MLAs and the high command after gaining majority in the polls, their loyalists and supporters have been projecting their respective leader, leading to unease in the party.
Shivakumar also exuded confidence that the party will form the next government and bag over 135 seats in the 224-member Assembly.
Asked whether he has got any assurance on chief ministership from the party high command in case his party comes to power in Karnataka, he said, “I am least bothered about who becomes chief minister. I have a mandate that we should deliver Karnataka to the Congress party for the betterment of the state, and give good governance.” On whether a CM face would help the party’s prospects in the polls, Shivakumar said the Congress will go into the polls with “collective leadership”.
“That is the decision of the Congress party, that is the guideline that has been given to me. With love and spirit, I will ensure that we all work together, we will all be united and we will have collective leadership,” he said.
Shivakumar asserted the Karnataka Congress is not a “divided house” but a “united house”.
On problems likely to crop up during ticket distribution ahead of polls, the Karnataka Congress chief said all leaders will sit together and take a unanimous call on it, adding that winnability would be the criteria.
“We will rectify social imbalance by bringing in youths and women,” he said.
Shivakumar’s remarks underlining the unity in the party’s state unit come days after he hugged party heavyweight Siddaramaiah on his 75th birthday in a public show of unity and bonhomie, prompting former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to express happiness.
On how many seats he expects the Congress to get on the polls, Shivakumar said it would be in excess of 135 seats.
He also asserted the Congress will contest alone and form the next government in the state.
Accusing the BJP of indulging in polarisation in Karnataka, Shivakumar said they know that they are failing in their responsibility and are seeing “the writing on the wall”. Therefore, they are trying to “create communal tension and polarisation”.
“If they had done development, created employment, ensured that financial status was strong, there was peace, progress, I think they would not have stepped into this polarisation issue,” he said.
Shivakumar said preparations are on for the elections and he is confident the people of the state will reject the BJP as its double engine government has not done anything.
“Just on a small call by me, more than 2.5 lakh people participated in the yatra. These are not my numbers. These are numbers given by the metro in which people travelled,” the Congress leader said of the party’s Freedom March in the state on India’s 75th anniversary of Independence on Monday.
“Freedom March was not my decision, it was the Congress party’s programme. Party leaders had a conference in Udaipur and they decided that it is the Congress party that has given freedom, democracy and we should protect that,” he said.
In the wake of the controversy over V D Savarkar and exclusion of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in an Independence Day advertisement, Shivakumar said it was just about diverting attention.
“Savarkar was not an issue anywhere. They cannot change the history of the Independence movement and they cannot change the history of the Gandhi family, their contribution to the country. Prime Minister Modi has realised that without Nehru there was no development and without Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle he could not have become PM,” he said.
Attacking the government, he alleged there is no governance in the state and Karnataka has become the “corruption capital of the country”.
“Corruption in Covid, corruption in employment, and unemployment have become a major issue in the state. So the people feel they should have a new government,” Shivakumar said, adding corruption is the biggest issue in the state.
Every house has been affected by price rise and the common people’s pockets are being picked everyday, he said, pointing to the rising prices of essential commodities.
Rejecting the BJP’s claims over providing jobs in the state, Shivakumar said lakhs of government posts are vacant and no private jobs are being created due to polarisation with “no one coming to invest”.
“If jobs were being created why suicides would have been taking place. There is no policy for job creation,” he alleged. The Congress is looking to wrest power from the BJP which is in power in the state under the leadership of Basavaraj Bommai.