Watch | A dream come true for Siddaramaiah as he gets picked for a second term as Karnataka’s Chief Minister

Watch | Who is Siddaramaiah?

Siddaramaiah takes charge at a time when people are looking forward to a stable Karnataka government

May 18, 2023 12:50 pm | Updated May 19, 2023 07:17 am IST - Bengaluru

Siddarmaiah will be sworn-in on May 20 in Bengaluru, making him the 24th Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Siddarmaiah will be sworn-in on May 20 in Bengaluru, making him the 24th Chief Minister of Karnataka. | Photo Credit: K. Bhagya Prakash

The elevation of 75-year-old Siddaramaiah as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party, prior to him being sworn in as Chief Minister of Karnataka, is a dream come true for the veteran politician who had set his eyes on the coveted position for a second term, after a gap of five years. This comes after a bitter contestation for the top post between him and KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar.

Mr. Siddarmaiah will be sworn-in on May 20 in Bengaluru, making him the 24th Chief Minister of the State. He takes charge at a time when the people of Karnataka are looking forward to a stable and credible government.

One of the two architects

Along with Mr. Shivakumar, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is considered as one of the architects of the Congress’ victory in the 2023 Assembly elections wherein the party won 135 seats, the highest number of seats after 1989.

Mr. Siddaramaiah, who has been a member of the Legislative Assembly eight terms since 1983, although not consecutively, has served in various capacities in successive governments of the Janata Dal, including as Deputy Chief Minister in the J.H. Patel government in 1996, and N Dharam Singh government in 2004, as well as the Chief Minister during 2013-18 Congress government.

Mr. Siddaramaiah was disappointed with the Janata Dal (Secular) — headed by its leader Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda — when he was denied the chief minister’s post and preferred N. Dharam Singh of the Congress to the top job in the formation of the first JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the State in 2004.

From the JD stables

In 2006, Mr. Siddaramaiah quit the JD(S) and joined the Congress along with his followers after serving a brief stint as Deputy Chief Minister in the Dharam Singh government. After his exit from the JD(S), Mr. Siddaramaiah was associated with the AHINDA, a movement championing the cause of backward classes, minorities and Dalits.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge meets party leaders Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge meets party leaders Siddaramaiah and D.K. Shivakumar in New Delhi on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: ANI

Then, in 2006, AICC president Sonia Gandhi arrived in Bengaluru and welcomed Mr. Siddaramaiah to the Congress at a huge public meeting in Bengaluru, offering a clear indication of the popularity that he enjoyed in the party.

Also read | Congress in Karnataka: Resurgent, but with too many claimants for power

Padayatra and a stable term

In 2013, before the Assembly elections, Mr. Siddaramaiah led a padayatra from Bengaluru to Ballari against the alleged illegal mining by the Reddy brothers, which was one of the major factors that powered the Congress to victory in the polls. As then KPCC president G. Parameshwara was defeated in the Assembly elections, Mr. Siddaramaiah was unanimously nominated to the post of the Chief Minister.

He completed his five-year tenure as the Chief Minister from 2013 to 18, only the second person to do so after Devaraj Urs (1972-77), who too was a backward classes leader like Siddaramaiah. Incidentally, both belong to the Mysuru district.

Supporters of senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah perform ‘abhishek’ of his poster during celebrations outside his residence, in Bengaluru, Thursday, May 18, 2023.

Supporters of senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah perform ‘abhishek’ of his poster during celebrations outside his residence, in Bengaluru, Thursday, May 18, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Coalition and collapse

The Congress went to polls in 2018 under the leadership of Mr. Siddaramaiah and was defeated. The party won 80 seats. With the support of the party high command, the JD(S)-Congress coalition government was formed under the leadership of H.D. Kumaraswamy, which survived for 14 months. The coalition government collapsed in 2019 following a defection of 14 MLAs of the Congress to the BJP under “Operation Lotus”, a popular term used to refer to engineered defections under alleged inducement. The BJP completed the rest of the term first under the leadership of B.S. Yediyurappa and then Basavaraj Bommai.

Mr. Siddaramaiah presented 13 budgets and launched multiple welfare programmes, branded as “Bhagya” schemes (2013-18). In an attempt to reach out to the Congress tag “catch-all”, the government doled out nearly a dozen of flagship schemes for catering to the needs (welfare) of the lower castes, the minorities and the poor during his tenure, such as free rice or the “Anna Bhagya” scheme or the Indira canteens for the urban poor.

From rural hinterland

Born at Siddaramanahundi in the Varuna area of Mysuru, Mr. Siddaramaiah was initially a lawyer before joining politics and was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1983. He is married to Parvathi and has one son, Yatheendra, a former MLA. His 75th birthday was celebrated in a grand manner with the participation of former AICC president Rahul Gandhi and lakhs of people at Davanagere in August, 2022.

Interestingly, Mr. Siddaramaiah announced during the run-up to the recent Assembly elections that this would be the last election he would contest and that he will no longer be in electoral politics after this. He also said that the elected MLAs would decide the chief ministerial candidate while the high command will make the official announcement.

The installation of a Congress government, a single party rule with absolute majority, is expected to augur well for Congress in the run-up to the elections to the Lok Sabha in 2024.

Watch our exclusive interview with Siddaramaiah during the campaign trail

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