Political leadership was an important issue in the Karnataka Assembly elections. It was also a demonstration of the authority structures of the national and regional leadership. Religious, ethical, communitarian, caste and cultural affiliations were at play. The media has tended to sensationalise the tensions and conflicts that arose in the representational arena, often characterising them as part of the naked pursuit of office. While personal ambitions cannot be ignored, these tensions often reflect the serious challenges faced by political parties.
The Congress campaign positioned the party as the upholder of democracy, social justice and constitutionalism and rallied against political exclusion, authoritarianism, centralisation of power, state partisanship, and corruption. This stance had a principled tilt towards regional leadership. For this, the Congress looked to Mallikarjun Kharge, Siddaramaiah, D K Shivakumar, M B Patil, Satish Jarkiholi and many others. They pooled together large social constituencies, which had been drifting towards the BJP for a while.
Who is Siddaramiah?
Former CM Siddaramiah was born in 1948 at Siddaramana Hundi, a remote village in Varuna Hobli of Mysuru District. Despite his humble origins, he graduated from Mysore University with a B. Sc. and went on to pursue a Bachelor of Law degree.
Who is DK Shivakumar?
The 60-year-old leader hails from the Vokkaliga community, largely concentrated in south Karnataka and making up around 15 per cent of the state’s population. He has been a part of the Congress since his youth. During his years in college, he joined the National Students Union of India, the student wing of the party.
Since then, he has risen through the ranks and been elected MLA seven times, contesting his first election from the Sathanur constituency when he was 27 years old.