The Congress, where it is common for the high command to enjoy sway and regional leaders overlooked, has announced it will celebrate the birthday of Karnataka Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah with fanfare in the state from the party platform.
Normally, the party celebrates the birthdays of the Gandhi family leaders but with changing equations in the country and the state, the high command has agreed to celebrate the birthday of Siddaramaiah, known as the mass leader of backward classes.
With the party’s decision to celebrate his birthday, Siddaramaiah has gained an upper hand over state party chief D.K. Shivakumar who is vying with him for the post of Chief Minister if the party is elected to power in the state.
Siddaramaiah, who will celebrate his 74th birthday on August 12, had managed to attain a simple majority for the party and ruled the state for a full term without any scandals. He enjoys support of Congress legislators, who wanted to give a message of his stature in the party through his birthday bash, sources said.
This had led to internal strife as the Shivakumar camp was also trying to organise a massive rally to counter the birthday bash. However, the high command, which saw the tussle as destroying its chances in the upcoming Assembly elections, decided to hold Siddaramaiah’s birthday celebrations, after convincing Shivakumar, sources said.
Siddaramaiah is a mass leader who could attract votes of backwards, Dalits, and minorities towards Congress. However, he is struggling to find an assembly seat for himself to contest. Shivakumar, on the other hand, is very well placed on his turf, and has a capacity to pull dominant Vokkaliga votes to the Congress.
The party high command knows very well that with the combination of strength of these leaders, it could win against ruling BJP in Karnataka.
On the other hand, Shivakumar has rejected the offer of his fans and supporters to celebrate his birthday on a grand scale. “There is should be a celebration of the party, its organisation, I don’t want any celebration for myself,” he stated.