Congress names Siddaramaiah Karnataka chief minister

Bangalore, May 10 (IANS) The Congress High Command Friday named 64-year-old Siddaramaiah as Karnataka’s new chief minister.

“Siddaramaiah is the choice of the party’s high command for the chief minister’s post,” the party’s central observer, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, told reporters at the party’s office in the city centre.

Within minutes of the much-awaited announcement, wild celebrations broke out at the party office, with hundreds of party cadres and Siddaramaiah’s supporters cheering, screaming, hooting and dancing.

“Siddaramaiah has been unanimously selected as our legislature party leader and he will be chief minister,” state leader and former minister R.V. Deshpande told reporters even before Antony formally announced the high command’s decision.This was among the quickest decisions taken by the Congress in recent years.

Earlier, all the 121 newly-elected Congress legislators authorised the high command, which includes party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, to decide on the name for the coveted post.

“All the legislators have authorised our high command to name the chief minister through a one-line resolution after they expressed their opinion through a secret ballot to the central observers,” another party leader, D.K. Shiva Kumar, told reporters.

Besides Antony, the high command had deputed the party’s senior leader from Goa, Luizinho Faleiro, Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh as observers to seek the legislators’ opinion for the chief minister’s post.

Madhusudhan Mistry, the Congress general secretary in-charge of Karnataka was also present at the three-hour-long meeting.

Asserting that there were no differences among the elected members and they were united on who should become the chief minister, Shiva Kumar said legislators had given their opinion to the observers in writing and left the decision to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

“All the legislators have expressed their opinion in writing to the observers in the form of a secret ballot, authorising the party high command to decide. Later, a resolution was unanimously passed to leave the decision to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi,” Shiva Kumar added.

The one-line resolution was moved by Siddaramaiah and seconded by the state party leaders Roshan Baig, H.K. Patil and R.V. Deshpande, who were elected to the assembly in the May 5 poll. The counting was on Wednesday.

With a comfortable majority of 121 seats in the 225-member assembly, including one nominated member, the Congress returned to power on its own after a gap of nine years.

Polling for one assembly seat – Periyapatna in Mysore district – was postponed to May 28 following the death of the BJP candidate.

The outgoing ruling party, the BJP, secured 40 seats, as did the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).

Of the remaining 22 seats, newly-floated regional outfits the Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) and BSR (Badavara Shramika Raithara) bagged six and four respectively. Twelve independents were also elected.

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