It was a perfect photo-op for the Congress in Karnataka with Rahul Gandhi clicked with former chief minister Siddaramaiah and state president D.K. Shivakumar and it came with an all-is-well sign.
While Siddaramaiah denied any rift in the party and said both of them are working together to win the polls, Shivakumar was more candid and said that the party will go for collective leadership and will not press for a chief ministerial candidate. Sources say Rahul Gandhi too said that it will be decided after the elections, putting all speculation to rest.
While the MLAs and leaders supporting Siddaramaiah are pressing for the declaration of a CM face and saying that he is the natural choice, though all is well sign is emanating from the AICC but the picture is not that rosy as similar photo op with Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan and with Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh went wrong.
In Rajasthan, Pilot on Wednesday had expressed his unhappiness over delayed cabinet expansion in the state and said that the Congress government could not repeat itself because of this, but later rectified his statement saying that the party has the responsibility to bring back the Congress government in next elections. However sensing trouble, Gehlot has been called to Delhi.
The Congress is facing a Punjab-like situation in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh also, where Sachin Pilot and T.S. Singh Deo, respectively, have chief ministerial ambitions.
Pilot had raised the banner of revolt last year, only to come back into the party. Deo, on the other hand, has been careful. For the record, he maintains that “Soniaji and Rahul Gandhiji will decide.” He was in Delhi recently on a personal visit, which made Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel rush to the national capital.
During his Delhi visit, Baghel said he would abide by the decision of the leadership and returned to Raipur in the same plane with Singh Deo.
Congress high command is finally asserting itself after manifesting as weak and indecisive in the aftermath of the 2019 poll debacle and then after the collapse of the coalition government in Karnataka and its own dispensation in Madhya Pradesh, following the revolt of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is now a Union Minister.
But it is not able to rein in the chief ministers like Ashok Gehlot and Amarinder Singh as a year of truce with Pilot, Gehlot did not expand the ministry to adjust Pilot camp and after the appointment of Sidhu, Amarinder Singh is adamant that Sidhu should apologise which is being rejected by him.
The Madhya Pradesh government fell as a result of the feud between Scindia and the then chief minister, Kamal Nath. Scindia felt he was being sidelined by Kamal Nath. Pilot had the same grudge in Rajasthan against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.