Governor appoints Siddaramaiah Karnataka CM, oath likely Monday

Bangalore, May 10 (IANS) Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj late Friday appointed Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah as the state’s chief minister. The 64-year-old leader is expected to be sworn in Monday.

“The governor is pleased to appoint Siddaramaiah as the Chief Minister of Karnataka,” the Raj Bhavan office said in a communique.

After meeting Bhardwaj, Siddaramaiah said the governor had invited him to take oath of office soon.

“I will take oath as chief minister most likely on Monday (May 13),” a beaming Siddaramaiah told reporters outside Raj Bhavan.

The appointment came within three hours after Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G. Parameshwara told the governor that Siddaramaiah was unanimously elected as the CLP leader and requested him to invite the latter to form the government.

“After taking oath alone, I will go to New Delhi with Parameshwara and finalise the council of ministers in consultation with the party president Sonia Gandhi and the high command,” the chief minister-designate said even as hundreds of his supporters cheered.

On a day of hectic political activity and high drama, Siddaramaiah was named chief minister by the high command after majority of the party’s 121 newly-elected legislators preferred him over another aspirant and union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, who is a Lok Sabha member from Gulbarga, about 650 km from here.

“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 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 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, and 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 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.

Election to the state’s 14th legislative assembly was held in 223 constituencies across the state May 5 and counting May 8.

Polling for one assembly seat – Periyapatna in Mysore district – was postponed to May 28 following the death of the BJP candidate April 29.

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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