Party workers jostle guards; police and cameramen quarrel

The crowd outside 1, Gandhi Bhavan Road — Siddaramaiah's house — erupted with slogans and burst crackers every time weary journalists settled down on the lawn, waiting for the Chief Minister-designate to return from Congress Legislature Party meeting on Friday.

Thinking that the Siddaramaiah had arrived, journalists would rush to the gate only to find dancing men shouting, “Sir, shoot me…take my photo.”

For four hours, this cat-and-mouse scene played over and over again. In fact, when Mr. Siddaramaiah’s eventual arrival was announced by a loud cheer, the cameramen were slow off the block thinking it to be another prank.

When the black, imported SUV rolled into the compound, the revellers went berserk. “The car…don’t spoil the car!” security men shouted as a few men latched onto the rear-view mirrors and skated alongside the vehicle.

As party workers and SIddaramiah supporters jostled the guards, who in turn pushed journalists, Mr. Siddaramaiah sat inside expressionless. He had a distant look on his face and did not respond as one of his aides inside the car spoke to him animatedly. The aide even prodded his leader to get his attention, but Mr. Siddaramaiah seemed lost in thought.

He was jolted out of his trance-like state when a few supporters tried to hoist him on their shoulders the moment he stepped out of the car. Ironically, his first words to his supporters, backed by a gesture of admonition, were: “Get your hands off me.”

Never say die

The crowd, though, only seemed to enjoy this rebuke. “This is the Siddu anna we all know and love. When he shouts at us, it is like he’s blessing us,” shouted one of the supporters as others responded with slogans describing Mr. Siddaramaiah as the Tiger of Mysore.

While the leader was whisked away by the police, television cameramen started shouting slogans against the police alleging the latter had pushed them roughly. The war of words that ensued between the police and the cameramen suddenly assumed centre stage. The revellers, who could not be contained until now, suddenly turned silent and gathered around to watch the quarrel.

Threatens boycott

The cameramen threatened to boycott the event even as senior party workers pleaded with them to calm down. The boycott threat withered away the moment Mr. Siddaramaiah emerged from the house to address the crowd.