Siddaramaiah top contender for CM post in Karnataka
Last Updated on May 13, 2023, 2:42 pm by News Desk
Bengaluru, May 13 (PTI) A renewed energy seems to have been infused into the 75-year old Congress leader Siddaramaiah’s gait as he walked to address a packed press conference in Mysore on Saturday.
“This (election result in Karnataka) will be a stepping stone for Congress’ victory in 2024,” Siddaramaiah said, losing no time in sending the signal that he has set his sights set on the future.
In the run up to the elections, Siddaramaiah’s appeal was sombre.
“This is my last election. I will retire from electoral politics”, the senior Congress leader had repeatedly said.
And now it appears that the sprightly Congress leader, who made no secret of his ambition to occupy the post of Chief Minister, is looking at what lay ahead.
The main race for top post is between Siddaramaiah, who served as Chief Minister from 2013 to 2018, and Congress state unit President D K Shivakumar.
In fact, he edged out M Mallikarjun Kharge, now the AICC President and the then Union Labour and Employment Minister, at the 2013 Legislature Party meeting to become chief minister.
A man rooted in ‘Janata Pariwar’ for two-and-half-decades and known for strident anti-Congress stance, Siddarmaiah joined the grand old party in 2006 after his ouster from JD(S) of former Prime Minister Deve Gowda brought him to political cross-roads.
After the fractured verdict in 2004, the Congress and JD(S) formed a coalition government, with Siddaramaiah, then in JD(S), being made deputy Chief Minister with Congress’ N Dharam Singh leading the dispensation.
Siddaramaiah, influenced as he was by socialism advocated by Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, held the grouse that he had the opportunity to become the CM but Gowda scuttled his prospects.
In 2005, he chose to position himself as a backward classes leader — he is from the Kuruba community, the third largest caste in Karnataka, by spearheading AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits) conventions, coincidentally at a time when Deve Gowda’s son H D Kumaraswamy was seen as a rising star of the party.
He was sacked from the JD(S), where he had earlier served as its state unit chief, with critics of the party insisting he was removed as Deve Gowda was keen to promote Kumaraswamy as the party’s leader.
Siddaramaiah, an advocate, at the time also talked about “political sanyas” and even toyed with the idea of going back to practice law. He ruled out floating a regional outfit, saying he can’t muster money power. Both the BJP and the Congress wooed him to join their ranks.
But he said he did not agree with the BJP ideology and joined the Congress with his followers in 2006, a move considered “unthinkable” only a couple of years earlier then.
Rustic in appearance at times, and not known to mince words, Siddaramaiah never hid his ambition to become chief minister and had repeatedly stressed on it unapologetically and unhesitatingly insisting that there is nothing wrong in aspiring for the post.
Siddaramaiah, who had grown to become a mass leader, has the distinction of presenting as many as 13 state budgets as Finance Minister.
Some of his friends say he has a somewhat “overpowering” personality and remains steadfast in his goals.
Making his debut in the Assembly in 1983, Siddaramaiah had got elected from Chamundeshwari on a Lok Dal Party ticket. He has won five times from this constituency and tasted defeat thrice.
He was the first Chairman of ‘Kannada Kavalu Samiti’, a watchdog committee which had the mandate to supervise the implementation of Kannada as official language formed during Ramakrishna Hegde’s chief ministership. Siddaramaiah later became Sericulture Minister.
In the midterm elections two years later, he was re-elected and served as Minister for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services in the Hegde government.
However, Siddaramaiah tasted defeat in the 1989 and 1999 Assembly elections. He was Chairman of the KPCC Publicity committee of Elections in 2008.
Born on August 12, 1948 at Siddaramanahundi, a village in Mysuru district, Siddaramaiah graduated from Mysore University with B.Sc. Degree and later studied Law from the same institution and pursued it as a profession for some time.
Siddaramaiah led a successful five year term as Chief Minister of Congress government between 2013-18.
Despite being popular because of populist “Bhagya” schemes, Congress faced a defeat in 2018. According to political observers and many within the Congress, Siddaramaiah government’s decision to accord “religious minority” status to the dominant Lingayat community had resulted in electoral losses for the party in 2018 Assembly polls.
Not only did the Congress lose badly in the Lingayat-dominated constituencies then, but a majority of prominent leaders who were actively involved in the “separate Lingayat religion” movement, suffered defeat.
As the then sitting chief minister, Siddaramaiah himself lost the 2018 polls in Chamundeshwari in Mysuru to JD(S)’ G T Deve Gowda by 36,042 votes.
He, however, won from Badami, the other constituency from where he had contested then and defeated BJP’s B Sriramulu by 1,696 votes.
After neighbouring Varuna became a constituency in 2008 following delimitation, Siddaramaiah represented it till he vacated the seat for his son Dr Yatindra in the 2018 assembly polls and went back to his old constituency of Chamundeshwari. (SOURCE: PTI)