Now Bharat Jodo Yatra divides Karnataka Cong, open blame game among the top two – The Indian Express

With the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra set to enter Karnataka on September 30 for a 22-day stretch, the divide between the party’s state chief D K Shivakumar and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has again revealed the faultlines in the state unit.
Assembly polls are scheduled to be held in Karnataka next year. Along with Rajasthan, the three weeks in Karnataka are the longest that the Bharat Jodo Yatra participants will spend in a state on their route. But the factions in Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) appear to be struggling to unite, with Shivakumar pulling up party colleagues for allegedly not stepping up to make the yatra a success.
In a meeting on Friday, Shivakumar hit out at the SIddaramaiah faction. “The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has appointed a separate team under Sunil (political strategist Sunil Kanugolu) to conduct political analysis on a daily basis,” he said. “There are about 600 people across the constituencies who are watching all the Congress’s probable candidates. We may know or may not know them. They are looking into all the sitting, defeated, and aspiring MLAs.”
Naming former state Congress chief RV Deshpande, Shivakumar said, “I asked Deshpande to get 5,000 people from his constituency for BJY (Bharat Jodo Yatra). He said he can’t get people as his constituency is far away. Can’t we just do this for one day for the sake of Rahul Gandhi?”
On Sunday, Deshpande’s name was missing from a list of 18 committees set up to manage the yatra. The Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council, BK Hariprasad, is the state leader in charge of the yatra.
According to some party insiders, the Siddaramaiah group is likely holding itself back as the yatra provides Shivakumar with the opportunity to showcase his organisational skills to the high command. Siddaramaiah himself is planning to hold a Rath Yatra. A Congress leader said the former CM’s march ahead of the Assembly polls would be on the lines of the Panchajanya Yatra led by former CM SM Krishna in 1999.
At the Friday meeting, Shivakumar said the Freedom March that the party organised in Bengaluru on August 15 was better planned unlike Siddaramotsva, or Siddaramaiah’s birthday celebrations earlier that month that saw massive participation from people. “During Siddaramotsava, a lot of people were stuck in traffic and it was not planned properly but when it came to the Freedom March, it was well-planned and everything was hassle-free.”
The relationship between the two leaders worsened following the announcement of Siddaramaiah’s birthday being celebrated in a grand manner by his supporters. Shivakumar said the party did not believe in worshipping individuals but changed his position after Rahul and general secretary KC Venugopal backed the birthday celebration plans. The two leaders are expected to be the front-runners for the chief minister’s post if the Congress returns to power next year.
Siddaramaiah was recently said to be unhappy about not being informed about a meeting between Shivakumar and Randeep Singh Surjewala, the central leader in charge of Karnataka. Initially, he refused to participate in the meeting but others later convinced him to attend the talks. Recently, Siddaramaiah’s picture did not feature on hoardings that the party put up for an event in Raichur.
Many old-timers do not consider the former CM a “real Congressman” as he joined the party only in 2006 after decades of association with the Janata Parivar. While Shivakumar has been able to keep the party on track since taking charge of the state unit in 2020 and has the advantage of being from the dominant Vokkaliga community from south Karnataka, SIddaramaiah, who is from the backward class Kuruba community, is also crucial for the Congress’s poll matrix as the party will want to consolidate his ‘AHINDA’ base. AHINDA stands for “Alpasankhyataru (minorities)”, “Hindulidavaru (Backward Classes)” and Dalit vote base.
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