Rahul Gandhi's Headache: How to Reward Karnataka Crisis Manager DK Shivakumar
According to Shivakumar's close aides, he had then demanded an important portfolio and the post of KPCC president. But many top leaders in the state Congress are opposing two jobs for him.
File photo of Congress president Rahul Gandhi with DK Shivakumar. (Facebook)
Bengaluru: When HD Kumaraswamy and G Parameshwara took oath as Karnataka chief minister and deputy chief minister two weeks ago, one man was visibly upset. He was sulking and his followers were angry.
The crisis manager of the Congress, D K Shivakumar, was hoping that the party would make him deputy chief minister for outsmarting the BJP in Karnataka.
But that post went to KPCC president Parameshwara, a Dalit. Even though Shivakumar said nothing in public, his supporters were vocal. They expressed their displeasure over the manner in which he was treated by the party.
“Whenever party is in trouble the high command looks up to him. He has saved the party many a times. He has faced a lot of trouble for helping the party. The angry central government is harassing him with IT, ED and CBI cases for his work and loyalty to Congress. But the high command has let him down time and again" said a close confidant.
Shivakumar, 56, is a seven-time MLA and has held important portfolios in the past. He first became a junior minister in the late S Bangarappa government in 1990 at the age of just 29. The Vokkaliga leader made a space for himself in the Deve Gowda dominated belts of Bengaluru rural by openly taking on them.
When the BJP was looking to prise away Congress MLAs immediately after the May 15 results, it was Shivakumar who had kept the flock together. His heroic efforts made him a national sensation and the Congress high command also acknowledged it.
But in Karnataka Congress, Shivakumar is both admired and disliked in equal measure and that has made the job of the party high command tough.
During their visit to Bengaluru, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had promised him a suitable position for his "sacrifices". They had consoled him saying that since Kumaraswamy is also a Vokkaliga, it was unwise for them to make him the deputy chief minister as he is one too.
According to his close aides, he had then demanded an important portfolio and the post of KPCC president.
But that does not seem to be happening now. Many top leaders in the state Congress are opposing two jobs for him. The coveted power portfolio held by him in the previous government has also gone to the JDS this time.
Shivakumar is reportedly upset over this and sarcastically told the media that he was happy with his job of a party watchman.
According to insiders, he feels that the Congress high command is bending over backwards to accommodate the wily Gowdas and has already ceded too much space to them at the cost the party.
He is now demanding that a meaty portfolio like Bengaluru Development or Water Resources should be given to him as compensation.
But Rahul Gandhi, who met Shivakumar on Tuesday, has not given any concrete assurances, claims a source.
If Shivakumar is not kept happy it can be dangerous for the coalition, admit many state Congress leaders.
"He is abrasive and too straight. Many don't like him for that. But when it comes to handling crisis, he is the man the party relies on. The high command must realise his importance and reward him suitably in its own interest," said a senior leader of the Congress.
One of his confidants said that the party must give him both - an important ministry and KPCC president post.
“We hope the high command will not insult him like they did Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam. All of us know what happened to Congress in the Northeast after his exit. If Rahul Gandhi wants to keep Congress alive and stronger in Karnataka, they need Shivakumar," he said.
Speaking to News18, Shivakumar said that he had full faith in high command and they were aware of his contribution to the party.
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