Bengaluru: Karnataka cooperation minister KN Rajanna has stirred controversy by proposing the addition of three deputy chief ministers in Karnataka, a move that could lead to tensions within the ruling Congress party, which is already grappling with internal issues. Rajanna announced on Saturday he would write to the Congress high command, suggesting the appointment of deputy chief ministers from three distinct communities: Veerashaiva-Lingayat, SC/ST, and minority communities.
Currently, DK Shivakumar, representing the Vokkaliga community, holds the position of deputy chief minister in the Siddaramaiah-led cabinet and serves as the state Congress President.
Rajanna spoke to reporters, emphasizing the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and the preparations underway by various political parties. “Lok Sabha elections are at our doorstep, and we see that all parties are gearing up for the polls. Our goal is for the Congress to secure the maximum number of seats in Karnataka, and we are confident in our ability to achieve that,” Rajanna stated.
He explained that the Veerashaiva community had distanced itself from the Congress, but recent Assembly poll results suggested a return of their support to the party. Rajanna recommended that one deputy chief Minister be appointed from the SC/ST community, another from the minority community, and the third from the Veerashaiva community.
Rajanna’s proposal for three deputy chief ministers contradicts the Congress’s previous decision to have only one deputy CM, which was part of the commitments made to Shivakumar when he relinquished his claim to the chief minister’s post and accepted the role of deputy chief minister.
Rajanna clarified that his suggestion for three more deputy chief ministers represents his personal opinion, aimed at gaining greater support from SC/STs, minorities, and the Veerashaiva community. He revealed his plan to write a letter to the Congress high command in the coming days, acknowledging that both the ongoing Congress Working Committee meeting in Hyderabad and his commitments to cooperative general body meetings in September would delay his communication with party leaders. He expressed his intention to meet with high command leaders in the first week of the following month to advocate for his proposal.
When asked about potential candidates for the deputy chief minister positions, Rajanna, from the ST community, deferred to the high command’s decision. He stressed that he did not seek the position personally and emphasized that the high command’s decision would be the party’s decision.
Rajanna mentioned that several party members shared a similar opinion regarding the appointment of more deputy chief ministers, expressing their private support for his proposal.
Regarding whether Shivakumar and his brother, DK Suresh, were upset with him for advocating more deputy chief ministers, Rajanna denied speaking against them. He stated, “Why would they be upset? I haven’t criticized them. Shivakumar holds the position of deputy chief minister and is the party’s state unit president. He is effectively organizing the party as a skilled organizer. I don’t believe there’s any reason for him to be upset.”
Shivakumar chose not to respond to Rajanna’s statement regarding the call for three deputy chief ministers, while Suresh told reporters, “You should ask Rajanna about it; he is the one running the government.”
Meanwhile, party spokesperson and minister Priyank Kharge asserted that party leaders have the right to present their opinions. He stated, “People can express their personal opinions before the high command, but as far as I understand, there are no such plans with the high command (to appoint three Deputy CMs). Such a proposal will not create any problems in our party. We have an internal democracy. It is common to have different opinions in a house.”
(With PTI inputs)