Fulfilling a 17-year-old dream, Siddaramanahundi Siddaramaiah (64), will take oath as the 22nd Chief Minister of Karnataka at the Sri Kanteerava Stadium on Monday, which also marks the auspicious event of Akshaya Tritiya.
A council of ministers is likely to be in place by next week, after consultations with State party chief G Parameshwara and the high command. Siddaramaiah’s selection as Congress legislature party leader and Chief Minister became a non-issue after the Congress high command worked out a deal with his rival and senior Congressman, Mallikarjun M Kharge. They have reportedly offered him the Railway Ministry, vacated by Pawan Kumar Bansal, though the official announcement is yet to be made.
AICC observers led by Union Defence Minister A K Antony held a meeting with newly elected MLAs and passed the usual Congress resolution to leave the selection of the CM to the party high command. Later, to make the selection process look more democratic, observers conducted a secret ballot asking MLAs to express their choice of candidate for the top post. “We were given a slip with a serial number to write the name of the CM candidate we preferred and drop it into a box. Observers, however, did not disclose number of votes that Siddaramaiah and Kharge secured,” one of the MLAs told Express.
Both sides claimed to have got more than 80 votes each, giving a very disjointed picture. Sources said even Parameshwara was not shown the number of votes each of the candidates received. The observers then contacted AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul before announcing the name of Siddaramaiah. “If this is what they had decided earlier, there was no need to conduct all these exercises,” one of the MLAs, who supported Kharge, said. A disappointed Kharge wished Siddaramaiah and left the meeting midway.