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Karnataka Congress leaders censured for statements on ‘next CM’

Despite the general elections to the State legislature being more than two years away still, followers of Congress leaders projecting Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah and KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar as the “next Chief Minister” has not gone down well with the party. The disciplinary committee has asked leaders and workers not to engage in such talks publicly as it might hurt the party.

In the run-up to the byelections recently, former Minister B.Z. Zameer Ahmed had pitched Mr. Siddaramaiah, while Jayanagar legislator Sowmya Reddy had backed Mr. Shivakumar as the next CM candidate from the party.

“The KPCC disciplinary action committee has noted with concern the differing views expressed by leaders of the party on the question of future leadership of the legislature party. The committee feels it would be advisable to leave the matter to the time when the question of leadership would arise, and requests all elected representatives, leaders, office-bearers and workers of the party to desist from [making] such statements,” said a statement from the committee on Sunday. The committee met to discuss the matter on November 5.

Party sources said it was a general advisory and no individual leader has been served notice. Sources also said the stern committee statement came after such talks diverted and divided the attention of party workers and leaders during the recent bypoll campaign. “Every leader wants to become Chief Minister, but these statements were unnecessary with the elections still far away. It is not the time to engage in such talks,” a party source said.

Referring to BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel mocking the Congress leadership, another source said, “It is giving unnecessary fodder to the BJP. The disciplinary committee’s statement is an exercise of damage control. With two major communities — Lingayat and Vokkaliga — currently not backing the party well, Mr. Siddaramaiah’s clout over backward classes cannot be ignored. These statements might cause confusion.”

The source also said that while the Congress has not projected any leader for the CM post, traditionally the KPCC president would be a front-runner. “Ultimately, the high command will decide.”

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