The biggest roadblock for the BJP in toppling the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government, was the man sipping coffee outside Mumbai’s Renaissance Hotel on Wednesday, 10 July, morning.
Since the political crisis in Karnataka kicked off, it was the Congress leader DK Shivakumar who took upon himself the task of trying to cajole the rebel MLAs. That was why, on Tuesday, 9 July, evening, he announced that he would go to Mumbai to meet the rebel MLAs. The BJP sent two senior leaders, including former Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok, to the Mumbai hotel.
By Wednesday morning, a letter with the signatures of the rebel MLAs was prepared. The letter said that they were under threat from DK Shivakumar and sought protection from the Mumbai police.
In Mumbai, after he was stopped at the gate of the hotel, Shivakumar waited outside, insisting he wouldn’t leave until he met the MLAs, while sipping the coffee offered by the Mumbai police. As he waited, in Bengaluru, senior BJP leaders submitted a letter to the Governor claiming there was a threat to the MLAs from Shivakumar.
With two more Congress MLAs approaching the Speaker with their resignations, the battle is almost over for the coalition, but DK Shivakumar has emerged victorious in the perception battle by being the only one who fought the BJP till the last minute.
On Saturday, 6 July, when the 12 rebel MLAs submitted their resignations, DK Shivakumar was the first to arrive at the Vidhana Soudha. As the rebel MLAs waited for the Speaker in his chamber, he sat with them and asked them to withdraw their resignations.
Finally, in a desperate move, he tore an MLA’s resignation letter.
Later he told the media, “Yes, I did tear resignation papers. I did that out of my emotion. Let them file a complaint against me. I have taken a very big risk. I did this to protect my party and friends.”
It was days later, while senior Congress leaders were busy holding meetings, that DK Shivakumar made his way to Mumbai, allegedly without prior consultation with the senior Congress leaders.
Supposedly a consequence of which, was the Former Chief Minister Siddarmaiah sitting on the road on Tuesday evening, in protest against the BJP.
Not the First Time
This is not the first political crisis where DK Shivakumar has shouldered responsibility.
He earned the title of the being a ‘troubleshooter’ in 2002, when the then Congress Leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was met with a no-confidence motion. During that time, then Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna asked his trusted lieutenant DK Shivakumar to escort the MLAs.
Shivakumar kept the Maharashtra MLAs at the Eagleton Resort in his constituency, before taking them to Mumbai on the day of voting and ensuring the government’s survival.
The Party’s Go-To Man
In August 2017, DK Shivakumar successfully prevented the horse-trading of 44 Gujarat MLAs ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls. During the time, the IT department launched a massive I-T raid against DK Shivkumar. He is still attending to the cases filed then by the I-T department.
A year later, after the 2018 Assembly elections gave a fractured mandate, Shivakumar was given charge of keeping the coalition MLAs together, ahead of the crucial floor test. Shivakumar was seen escorting the rebel MLAs, holding their hands, before ensuring that the coalition government proved its majority on the floor of the house.
Later, impressed by his work during the Karnataka Assembly elections, in keeping the MLAs together to avoid poaching, the Congress high command gave him a twin-task in Telangana – dissidence management and stopping post-poll poaching.
DK Shivakumar, who started a his political career taking on one of the biggest leaders in Karnataka, HD Deve Gowda, has the dream of the becoming the state’s chief some day.
Despite his attempts, the future of the coalition government in the state looks bleak. However, Shivakumar has once again proven that he is the workhorse of the party, making his position in the party stronger in the long run.