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Congress bets on Man Friday Shivakumar to revive in Karnataka

Taking over the reins of the party’s state unit, Shivakumar vowed to bring the Congress back to power in the state with the support of its leaders and cadres.

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DK Shivakumar

Bengaluru, July 5 : The opposition Congress has picked its Man Friday D.K. Shivakumar to revive its fortunes in Karnataka after three consecutive electoral defeats since May 2018 state Assembly polls, with the worst being in May 2019 general elections, when it retained one and lost 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats it contested in a pre-poll alliance with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in the southern state.

In a stunning performance, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 25 of the 27 parliamentary seats it contested and supported Independent Sumalatha Ambarish to win the 28th seat in Mandya, about 100km from Bengaluru.

The JD-S, which contested 7 Lok Sabha seats, also retained one.

In the December 5, 2019 by-elections to 15 Assembly seats, the grand old party won 2 and lost 12 to the BJP and one to an Independent in triangular contests as it did not have pre-poll tie-up with its estranged ally — the JD-S.

Ironically, the 12 who won on the BJP ticket were defectors from the Congress and the JD-S, whose resignations from their Assembly seats led to the fall of their 14-month old coalition government on July 23, 2019 for losing majority in the 225-member House under its JD-S Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Though the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government completed 5-year term from 2013 to 2018 and hoped to retain power, a hung verdict in the 2018 Assembly elections forced it to enter into a post-poll alliance with its arch rival JD-S to keep the BJP out of power and formed a coalition government on May 23, 2019, after the 3-day BJP government fell on May 19, 2019.

Resignation by Congress’ state unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao on December 9, owning moral responsibility for the party’s humiliating defeat in the Assembly by-elections caused a huge void to fill in.

After 3 months of deliberations, especially the caste equations in the faction-ridden party, the Congress high command in mid-March pitched for Shivakumar, its troubleshooter, who rose from the ranks to become a strong leader in the politically dominant Vokkaliga community across the state.

Shivakumar, 58, is a 7-time legislator from the Kanakapura assembly segment, about 60km south of Bengaluru. His younger brother D.K. Suresh is the party”s Lok Sabha member from the Bangalure Rural seat for the second time.

Covid-19 induced lockdown and its extension delayed Shivakumar from taking charge as president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) along with three working presidents – Eshwar Khandre, Sameer Ahmed and Satish Jarkiholi.

“The Congress high command is betting on Shivakumar to bring the party back to power in the state after the next Assembly elections, due in 2023. The onerous task is cut out for him, as he has to take on a formidable BJP, which consolidated its position by securing a majority in the lower House through its time-tested operation kamala strategy,” a political analyst told IANS here.

Though the BJP will be gunning for him as a tainted politician who was arrested and jailed in money laundering and tax evasion cases during 2017-19, Shivakumar remains unfazed in view of his popularity as a mass leader with huge resources and as one of the richest ”netas” in the country.

“Knowing my strength and capabilities, the BJP and its governments at the state and centre tried to finish me off politically by misusing the enforcement agencies and sending me to jail though I did not commit any offence. I am not afraid of anyone,” thundered Shivakumar on July 2 while addressing the party”s leaders and cadres across the state through video-conferencing.

With the backing of party president Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi, Shivakumar is upbeat on galvanising the Congress in the state by rebuilding it from the booth level, a strategy the BJP mastered over the years to win elections at the hustings across the country.

“The high command assessed Shivakumar”s popularity and the following in the party after he returned to Bengaluru on October 26, 2019 from New Delhi on release from Tihar jail to a rousing welcome from the airport to the party office in the city centre and the protests that were held across the state against his arrest in Delhi early September in 2019,” the analyst recalled.

The party leaders are also of the view that by projecting Shivakumar as the chief ministerial candidate in the next Assembly elections, it will be able to get more Vokkaliga votes, especially in the old Mysuru region, where it lost badly in the 2018 Assembly elections to the JD-S, which is a Vokkaliga-dominant party in its traditional bastions.

Taking over the reins of the party’s state unit, Shivakumar vowed to bring the Congress back to power in the state with the support of its leaders and cadres.

“Though it”s the high command, which names the chief minister after the Assembly elections in the event of winning the mandate, the party”s state unit president is favoured for the top executive post, as in the case of S.M. Krishna and Dharam Singh who became Chief Ministers after leading the party in the elections in the past,” said party leader M.A. Saleem.

(Fakir Balaji can be reached at [email protected])

India

Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah tests positive for Covid-19

Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah tweets he has tested positive for Covid-19, admitted to hospital
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa is undergoing treatment at Manipal Hospital after testing coronavirus positive

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Siddaramaiah

Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Informing about the same on social media site Twitter, Siddaramaiah said, “I have been tested positive for Covid-19 and also been admitted to the hospital on the advice of doctors as a precaution. I request all those who had come in contact with me to check out for symptoms and to quarantine themselves.”

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and one of his daughters are undergoing treatment at Manipal Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. On Monday the Karnataka CM said there was no need for anyone to worry and he will soon get back to work after recovery. The Manipal Hospital where the 77-year-old leader has been admitted since last night said he is “doing well” and “clinically stable.”

The Chief Minister had taken to Twitter on Sunday night to announce that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being shifted to hospital. “I have tested positive for coronavirus. Whilst I am fine, I am being hospitalised as a precaution on the recommendation of doctors. I request those who have come in contact with me recently to be observant and exercise self quarantine,” Yediyurappa had said

Karnataka has so far reported 74,598 active COVID-19 cases, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Karnataka has seen a substantial increase in COVID-19 recovery rate, which was 5.67 per cent in the last week, state Medical Education Minister Dr. K Sudhakar said.

“Every day there is an increase in recovery rate which is higher by 9.17 per cent in Bengaluru city. The overall recovery rate of the state by Sunday evening was 42.81 per cent and it is 35.14 per cent in Bengaluru,” the Minister wrote in a tweet.

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Health

Senior CPI-M leader Md Salim tested for Covid +ve

He said that the decision also aimed at avoiding all kinds of risks of infection amongst his friends, family and neighbours.

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Md Salim

Kolkata, Aug 4 : Senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader from West Bengal Mohammad Salim has tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday night.

The ex-MP tweeted, “I have tested positive for Coronavirus with very mild symptoms but I got myself admitted into a hospital as per the advice of my attending doctor”.

He said that the decision also aimed at avoiding all kinds of risks of infection amongst his friends, family and neighbours.

Senior Congress leader from West Bengal Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wished a speedy recovery to Md Salim. “Get well soon,” Adhir tweeted.

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Cities

Karnataka Governor tests negative after recent meeting with CM

Yediyurappa, 77, and daughter B.Y. Padmavati who also tested positive, are under treatment at a private hospital though they are asymptomatic with mild symptoms.

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Vajubhai Vala

Bengaluru, Aug 3 : Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala has tested negative for coronavirus, three days after meeting Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa who was diagnosed positive on Sunday, an official said on Monday.

“The Governor has undergone a corona antigen test and tested negative,” said a communique from the Raj Bhavan.

The Chief Minister, along with Home Minister Basavaraju Bommai, had called on the Governor last week to discuss the Covid situation in the state and measures being taken to contain the pandemic spread.

“The Governor’s ADC and Personal Secretary Tejas Bhatti have also undergone antigen tests, and were found to be negative,” the communique said.

Yediyurappa, 77, and daughter B.Y. Padmavati who also tested positive, are under treatment at a private hospital though they are asymptomatic with mild symptoms.

“The Chief Minister is doing fine and spoke with the hospital staff. He also held an informal meeting with the team of doctors and nurses treating him at breakfast and enquired about their work conditions and the pressure they have been under since the pandemic broke out in March,” an official said.

Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar, who is himself a medical practitioner, said: “The Chief Minister has a mild cough while his chest and respiratory system are normal.”

As the minister has been meeting Yediyurappa regularly in connection with the Covid crisis management in the state, he gave his swab sample for the test and will be in home quarantine.

Sudhakar had tested negative after his father, wife and daughter tested positive on June 22-23 and had isolated himself for over a week at home in the city.

Though the Chief Minister was mostly at his official residence since Friday, National Education Policy draft committee chairman K. Kasturirangan called on him that day.

The Chief Minister had also been to the Electronics City earlier that day to inaugurate the new building of the Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd (Keonics), where he came in contact with many people though he wore a mask and maintained physical distancing.

Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan and other officials had accompanied him.

On July 30, the Chief Minister flagged off the tunnel boring machine for the second phase of the metro rail project at the city centre, where people were present in large numbers.

Meanwhile, best wishes and “get well soon” poured from all over the country for the his quick recovery.

Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, opposition Congress leader Siddaramaiah, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Ashwath Narayan, Bengaluru Mayor M. Goutham Kumar and others wished Yediyurappa a speedy recovery.

Yediyurappa is the fourth minister in the state to test coronavirus positive after Forest Minister Anand Singh, Tourism Minister C.T. Ravi and Agriculture Minister B.C. Patil last month.

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