Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah plans state yatra ahead of elections
Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah will undertake a month-long tour of the state starting 13 December, announcing new schemes, laying foundations stones for proposed projects and inaugurating government programmes.
Siddaramaiah’s move comes at a time when two other political parties—Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—are touring the state and visiting almost all of the 224 constituencies, to campaign against the Congress government ahead of assembly elections due by May.
“The Chief Minister’s yatra is to inaugurate and lay foundation stones among other government sponsored events. It is separate from the party-organized yatra,” Siddaramaiah’s office said.
The government will also have to complete making any new announcements of major projects before the code of conduct comes into effect once the election dates are announced next year.
Though Siddaramaiah is also expected to participate in the party tour, senior party leaders say that the two separate yatras will clearly demarcate the government from the party. However, growing tensions between two of the senior-most leaders of the party have become evident over issues like ticket distribution.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara has maintained that the party should follow a rule of providing only one assembly ticket per family. However, Siddaramaiah, whose son is expected to contest the elections, has stated that the final decision rests with the party high command.
Parameshwara was one of the aspirants for the post of chief minister in 2013, but he lost out as he was defeated in the assembly elections.
Though many dissidents backed Parameshwara for the post of chief minister in 2018, the party put any such speculation to rest when it backed Siddaramaiah to continue in the post.
“There is no contention for tickets for the 122 seats (existing Congress legislators) and this issue has been decided. The remaining (102 seats) will be looked into,” a senior Congress leader said, requesting not to be named.
In May, the party announced that Siddaramaiah will lead the party into elections and extended Parameshwara’s term as president—hoping to end growing dissidence and put up a united front in the elections. However, Parameshwara had to forgo the coveted home portfolio to continue as president—a post he has held for over seven years now.
Harish Ramaswamy, a political analyst and professor of political science at the Karnatak University, says that Siddaramaiah has firm control of the party unlike in BJP’s case where both leaders were equals.
“The formidable position that Siddaramaiah is in today is something that none of the political opponents within or outside can think in terms of playing games with. The only thing is that after the elections are declared, then we will have to wait and see,” he added.
Ramaswamy said that Siddaramaiah’s popularity and winnability could help revive the Congress party itself which has suffered defeats in other stronghold states of the country and thwart another BJP victory in Karnataka—considered as the gateway into states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
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