Siddaramaiah regains control over the Karnataka Congress when the party names him opposition leader

BENGALURU: The former prime minister, who has been facing a rebellion within the party, received a new life on Wednesday with the president of AICC, Sonia Gandhi formally naming him as the leader of the opposition in.

His confidant SR Patil was also named leader of the opposition in the legislative council.

This has been a major setback for his opponents in the party, led by the main leaders of Congress, including KH Muniyappa, BK Hariprasad and HK Patil, who had launched a week-long campaign against his candidacy.

Siddaramaiah now ceases to be a member of the working committee of Congress, the highest decision-making body of the party. The party appreciates the contribution of Siddaramaiah as a member of the working committee of the Congress, announced the general secretary of AICC in charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal one day before the assembly session.

In addition to Siddaramaiah, HK Patil and former Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara were among those who claimed the charge.

For a week, factionalism in the Karnataka Congress unit stood out when the main leader of the party, Madhusudan Mistry, called a meeting to decide the opposition leader. While many legislators backed Siddaramaiah as opposition leader, Muniyappa, Hariprasad and Patil campaigned saying that the original congressmen should be considered and not migrants. Siddaramaiah was previously with the JD (S) and joined Congress after being expelled from the party.

Muniyappa's differences with the former prime minister widened recently when the two had a bitter verbal dispute at a recent meeting. According to reports, a former Union minister, Muniyappa, accused Siddaramaiah of plotting a conspiracy to defeat him in the recent Lok sabha Kolar's choice.

With his appointment as opposition leader, Siddaramaiah’s control over the state Congress unit appears to be complete as Dinesh Gundurao, another of his followers, is already at the helm of the party. It is being said that Sonia Gandhi decided to go with Siddaramaiah after majority of MLAs backed him when AICC general secretary Madhusudhan Mistry elicited their opinion in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Siddaramaiah beat Patil in the race for the position of the opposition leader. Patil, who was backed by many senior leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge had lobbied hard at the Delhi level. I had even met Sonia Gandhi last week.

The consecutive electoral defeats that the party faced under Siddaramaiah's administration and the growing discontent over his leadership among other high-ranking leaders had ignited hope for Patil.

The indirect efforts of JD (S) supreme HD Deve Gowda to create a negative opinion on Siddaramaiah at the Delhi level by holding him accountable for the collapse of the Congress-JD (S) coalition government and for his defeat in Tumakuru had also created doubts about Siddaramaiah being named as LoP. The fact that Siddaramaiah was appointed after obtaining the opinion of the MLA and not by election of the high command itself is an achievement of his opponents, said a senior member of the MLA of Congress.

Many members of Congress also argue that things would have been more difficult for Siddaramaiah if DK Shivakumar had not been in jail.