The former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s appointment as a member of the 23-member Congress Working Committee (CWC), the top decision-making body of the party, is seen as an offer of a bigger role in a larger arena for him ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

In his new role, vetted by party president Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Siddaramaiah will have a say in the decision-making of the party at the State as well as national level. His elevation to the CWC is also seen as the high command’s belief in his leadership despite the party’s loss in the the recent Legislative Assembly elections.

With this, Mr. Siddaramaiah has three roles to play — that of leader of the Congress Legislature Party, chairman of the coordination committee of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the State, and CWC member.

According to sources, the party may also put pressure on the former Chief Minister to contest in the 2019 general elections from a constituency in north Karnataka. He was elected to the Assembly from Badami, in north Karnataka, this year. Mr. Siddaramaiah contested in the 1991 Lok Sabha elections on Janata Dal ticket but lost to Ansari Basavaraj Patil of the Congress from Koppal constituency.

Interestingly, his appointment to the CWC comes at a time when Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara and Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar have begun to focus on running the coalition government, leaving the party work to younger leaders.

Clarity in planning

Sources in the State Congress told
The Hindu
that Mr. Siddaramaiah’s appointment would strengthen the party in the State ahead of the 2019 elections. Since new Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dinesh Gundu Rao and working president Eshwar Khandre are loyal to the former CM, the party cadre is expected to get clear signals on the way forward.

“The CWC will use the three decades of political experience of Mr. Siddaramaiah to strategise the party’s campaign at the national level. Since the former CM is also close to Mr. Rahul Gandhi, party will utilise his ideas in drafting the poll manifesto and other activities to counter the BJP,” a senior leader said. Mr. Siddaramaiah had effectively countered Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the Assembly elections here.

Sources said Mr. Gandhi had dropped leaders with a “laid-back” attitude in the party such as Oscar Fernandes, M. Veerappa Moily, and B.K. Hariprasad from the committee and inducted the energetic Mr. Siddaramaiah.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, a major name in north Karnataka, has been retained in the CWC.


The many faces of the

former Chief Minister

Leader of Congress Legislature Party

Chairman of coordination committee of the

JD(S)-Congress

coalition government

Member of Congress Working Committee

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