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Karnataka polls: For DK Shivakumar, it’s an acid test of leadership

With very few exceptions, like the 2018 Ballari Lok Sabha bypoll, Shivakumar has been a loner who has rarely won elections for candidates other than himself and brother DK Suresh.

Published: 30th October 2020 08:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th October 2020 08:22 AM   |  A+A-

Congress leader DK Shivakumar (File Photo | Meghana Sastry, EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Even if the Congress were to win both the bypoll-bound seats, it would make no difference to the stability of the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government in Karnataka. Yet, winning them is of utmost importance to DK Shivakumar. 

Apart from the fact that these bypolls are Shivakumar’s debut electoral venture as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President, a victory is necessary for him to grow beyond his image of a ‘lone ranger’. Ever since his appointment as KPCC chief, Shivakumar has been reaching out to leaders to build bridges between various factions of the party. The bypolls are perhaps the first test of that forged unity. 

Having built a perception of being a ‘troubleshooter’, ‘crisis manager’, ‘Mr Dependable’ for the party in challenging times, Shivakumar is now compelled to translate that perception into electoral victory. With very few exceptions, like the 2018 Ballari Lok Sabha bypoll, Shivakumar has been a loner who has rarely won elections for candidates other than himself and brother DK Suresh.

But as KPCC chief, he has to set aside his rivalries, lead the party, motivate cadres, unite leaders and win elections out of his comfort zones. In the past 10 days, Shivakumar has campaigned in Sira for four days and in Rajarajeshwari Nagar for six — both in Old Mysuru, his backyard. 

“Shivakumar is a popular leader but not a mass leader,” opined a Congress office-bearer. This election is Shivakumar’s stepping stone to elevate himself to the status of ‘mass leader’. For a man striving to be the next big Vokkaliga leader after former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Shivakumar is under pressure to come across as a relatable, reliable leader for the Vokkaligas, who are dominant in RR Nagar and Sira. 

For Shivakumar, RR Nagar is a personal favourite, not just because it comes under Bengaluru Rural MP DK Suresh’s constituency, but also because he handpicked the candidate, H Kusuma, to take on a very competent Muniratna. While a victory in Sira would be a collective effort of all Congress leaders, it will be a personal one in RR Nagar for Shivakumar. But only if. 

  • Winning bypolls crucial as it his debut election outing as KPCC President  
  • Victory will give DKS the status of mass leader
  • Under pressure to prove his Vokkaliga credentials in these two seats in Old Mysuru, his stomping ground


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