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'Sacrificed for the Party': Why did DK Shivakumar Give in & What's Next for Him?

DK Shivakumar is set to take oath as the next deputy chief minister of Karnataka.

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'I sacrificed for the party's interest' Karnataka Pradesh Congress chief DK Shivakumar said, after the Congress high command chose former CM Siddaramaiah as Karnataka's next chief minister. His brother, Lok Sabha MP DK Suresh, also echoed the same sentiment.

Labelled Congress' 'trouble-shooter', Shivakumar is set to take oath as Karnataka's Deputy CM on 20 May.

Three factors went in Siddaramaiah's favour:

  • Seniority - Siddaramaiah is 75, while Shivakumar is 62.

  • Control over a sizable part of the Congress' base among OBC, Dalit and minority voters

  • The fact that the party didn't have any thing respectable to give Siddaramaiah had they gone with Shivakumar. Being a former CM, Siddaramaiah couldn't have been expected to become deputy CM and there's nothing they could have given him nationally.

But what next for Shivakumar? What were the concerns he expressed to the party leadership? Why did he give in eventually?

We'll try and answer these questions in this piece.

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What Were His Concerns?

Shivakumar had cited the hard work he had put in for the party as the Karnataka PCC chief since he took over in 2020. A year earlier, the Congress had suffered a humiliating debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, winning just one seat out of 28 that too being Shivakumar's own brother DK Suresh from Bengaluru Rural.

He had cited the sacrifices he made for the party, especially the manner in which he was arrested and kept in jail for 50 days. He claims that despite offers from the BJP to join and escape this predicament, he remained firmly loyal to the party.

Shivakumar has also faced raids from several agencies. Not just him, the firm hired by him - Designboxed - also had to face raids.

The Shivakumar camp has also been alleging that Siddaramaiah in comparison is not an organisation man and doesn't contribute to the party as much.

Shivakumar expressed his reluctance to take over as Deputy chief minister as the position itself doesn't hold much value, especially with the BJP having multiple deputy CMs in BS Yediyurappa's last term.

The assurance of being made eventually the CM either in the middle of the term as part of a power sharing arrangement or after five years also didn't inspire much trust, given how similar promises turned out in states like Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

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Why Did Shivakumar Accept Eventually?

The party leadership, on its part, acknowledged Shivakumar's contributions and also the fact that his claim over the CM's chair was justified.

Both Randeep Surjewala and KC Venugopal did say in the press conference that both Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar were worthy of being CMs. This reflects the position of the current Congress president as well as the Gandhi family.

DK Shivakumar is set to take oath as the next deputy chief minister of Karnataka.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar during celebrations after the party's win in Karnataka Assembly elections, in Bengaluru.

(Photo: Altered by The Quint/PTI)

Party president Mallikarjun Kharge and former presidents Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi all spoke to Shivakumar in person. He is said to have been given an assurance that his chance would come.

Kharge in particular, is said to have cited the example of his own career, how he was overlooked many times for the CM's chair in Karnataka, despite his seniority. He could have become CM in 1999, 2004 or 2013, but lost out to leaders like SM Krishna, Dharam Singh and Siddaramaiah. And yet now he has become more powerful than any current or former CM, due to his loyalty and commitment to the organisation.

The leadership conveyed to Shivakumar that he is asset to the party, not just in Karnataka but nationally as well.

His particular concern about the Deputy chief minister's position was addressed to some extent with the party announcing that he would be the only deputy CM.

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What Next for Shivakumar?

Whether he would be made CM during this term or projected in the next election would depend greatly on what happens in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Shivakumar assured the party leadership that he would spare no effort in ensuring that the Congress gets a good tally from Karnataka in the Lok Sabha elections.

This is no easy task. Despite winning a thumping majority in 2013, the Congress could manage to win just nine out of 28 seats in 2014. That was at a time when Siddaramaiah was at the peak of his popularity.

Then again in 2019, the Congress was ruling Karnataka in alliance with the JD-S but the allies could win just two seats between themselves in the Lok Sabha elections.

Shivakumar will remain PCC chief despite Congress' 'One Person, One Post' rule mainly in order to work towards the Lok Sabha elections.

If Shivakumar delivers more than half the seats in Karnataka for the Congress in 2024, his stake for the CM's chair will be strengthened greatly.

He is likely to be given important portfolios in the cabinet. It remains to be seen which ministries he exactly gets. He had become a minister of state when he wasn't even 30, under the Bangarappa ministry. He was urban development minister under SM Krishna and held portfolios like power, irrigation and medical education under the 2018-19 Kumaraswamy ministry.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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