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Behind-The-Scenes Account Of How Congress Broke Karnataka Deadlock

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Mr Siddaramiah has been appointed Karnataka Chief Minister, DK Shivakumar is his deputy

New Delhi:

Three days of hectic parleys in the Congress in the national capital over who would be the next Chief Minister of Karnataka finally came to an end on the wee hours of Thursday with the party choosing veteran Mr Siddaramaiah over state president DK Shivakumar for the coveted post.

A fierce contest between Mr Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar over the chief ministership complicated the situation for the party, which won a big state with a comfortable majority after five years.

Here is the timeline of what transpired in Delhi in the last 72 hours:

Sunday night: In the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting, a one-line resolution was passed authorising the Congress president to appoint the CLP leader.

Monday 6-9 pm: The three observers appointed by the Congress to get the views of the party MLAs on who should be the next Chief Minister submitted their report to party president Mallikarjun Kharge around 8 pm on Monday.

Monday 10 pm: Mr Kharge discussed the report with the party’s General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal and state in-charge Randeep Surjewala on Monday night and the way forward to find a solution to the impasse.

Monday 10 pm: As DK Shivakumar was digging in heels and cancelling his proposed trip to Delhi on Monday, Mr Kharge met his brother and Lok Sabha MP DK Suresh to send a message to the Karnataka state president to come to Delhi for a discussion.

Tuesday 12.30 pm: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi met Mr Kharge along with Mr Venugopal on Tuesday afternoon. Sources said Mr Gandhi referred to the practice of the party following the MLAs support for selecting a Chief Minister in the meeting without explicitly taking any leader’s name.

Tuesday 5.30-6.30 pm: Mr Kharge after meeting Mr Gandhi met both Mr Shivakumar and Mr Siddaramaiah separately in the evening, 5.30 PM and 6.30 pm, respectively, though his office maintained both as “courtesy visits”. Sources said Mr Kharge sought the views of the both the leaders on the contentious issue. Later, Mr Kharge also had a wider consultation with several leaders from the central and state unit of the party.

Wednesday 11.30 am and 12.30 pm at 10 Janpath: On Wednesday at 11:30 am, Mr Siddaramaiah met Rahul Gandhi followed by Mr Shivakumar and at 12.30 pm, sources say, Mr Gandhi asked both the leaders to “abide by the decision of the AICC president and work in the interest of the party.”

Wednesday 2 pm at 10 Rajaji Marg: Mr Shivakumar was called to meet Mr Kharge at his home on Tuesday evening. In the meeting, he was informed about the decision of the party leadership to appoint Mr Siddaramaiah as the CLP leader citing the support of a majority of MLAs. Mr Shivakumar refused to accept the decision and referred to his contribution in the party’s victory in the state.

Wednesday 7 pm: As the impasse continued, Mr Kharge had phone call with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday evening and in this call, the party leadership took a firm decision to go with the views of the majority MLAs for the chief ministership.

Wednesday 8 pm: Mr Kharge held a meeting with Mr Venugopal and Mr Surjewala at around 8 pm on ways to bring Mr Shivakumar on board with the decision, sources said. In this two-hour meeting, it was decided to offer Deputy Chief Minister to Mr Shivakumar with portfolios of his choice.

Wednesday 9 -11 pm: Mr Venugopal then met Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr Shivakumar separately at his home and conveyed the decision of the party president. Mr Shivakumar was placated by accepting his demands for continuing with the state president post and only one Deputy Chief Minister. With this, he was taken on board with the decision. With both Mr Siddaramaiah and Mr Shivakumar on board, Mr Venugopal and Mr Surjewala met Mr Kharge at midnight and the decision was sealed.

Sources said that though an assurance for power-sharing has been given to Mr Shivakumar, both sides declined to comment anything about it on record.