Managing Dissent in Telangana, DK Shivakumar Moves up the Ladder  

The Congress has given Shivakumar a twin task in Telangana – dissidence management and stopping post-poll poaching.

2 min read
DK Shivakumar with Rahul Gandhi.

After ensuring a victory for his party in the Ballari by-elections, Karnataka Congress’ go-to man DK Shivakumar has taken on another task, this time in Telangana. During the last week of November, Shivakumar was busy in the poll-bound state, convincing rebel candidates in the Congress to withdraw their nominations.

According to sources, impressed by his work during the Karnataka Assembly Elections in keeping the MLAs together to avoid poaching, the Congress high command has given him a twin task in Telangana – dissidence management and stopping post-poll poaching.

A Task Crucial For Victory

The Telangana Congress joining the Mahakutumi – an alliance with the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS), Telugu Desham Party (TDP) and CPI – had resulted in the party forgoing several seats as part of the alliance agreement. This had led to at least 27 Congress ticket aspirants rebelling and filing their nominations as independents.

Sources said after the intervention of the team of leaders led by DK Shivakumar, at least 16 rebel leaders have withdrawn their nominations. The party continues to be in talks with the other leaders, to support the party during the campaign.

For the Congress and the alliance, withdrawal of nominations by these rebel candidates are crucial. “In this big election, every vote will matter. The party is hoping to win several seats because the alliance partners’ votes will come in our favour. In such a situation, we can’t allow our votes to be split. The task of getting them back required a strongman like Mr Shivakumar,” said a senior Congress leader.

Bigger Task Ahead

This, however, was the first phase of his task in Telangana. According to sources, apart from dissidence management, Shivakumar has been asked to monitor the post-poll scenarios in the state for the party.

In the 2014 Assembly Elections, KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had only won 63 seats. However, by the end of the 2018, their seat share increased to 90, thanks to defectors from the Congress and the TDP.

DK Shivakumar, who had played a key role in keeping the party’s Gujarat MLAs away from poaching during the Rajya Sabha elections and foiled the BJP’s poaching attempts in Karnataka ahead of alliance formation with the JD(S), has been asked to do the same in the Telangana following the elections.

In a statement to the media, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee President N Uttam Kumar Reddy said: “We need people like Shivakumar, given the unethical politics of KCR-led Telangana Rashtra Samiti. It is important to fortify our differences, apart from planning to win the elections.”

Stepping up the Ladder

Back at home, DK Shivakumar is assuming more power in the political equations of the state. Siddaramaiah, who was once the go-to strategist for Rahul Gandhi and a candidate for entering national politics, was not given an active role in planning the Telangana elections.

At the same time, DK Shivakumar is prominently visible besides Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi during the public rallies in Telangana.

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