Karnataka's former CM Siddaramaiah will turn a year older tomorrow (3 August). His birthday celebrations—‘Siddaramotsava’—are being held in Davanagere. The event will also see Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in attendance.
Gandhi is said to be primarily attending the first meeting of the party’s state unit’s political affairs committee that was constituted by AICC president Sonia Gandhi in July.
Political observers say that Siddaramaiah's birthday celebration is much more than just that. It is an unofficial declaration of his supremacy within the party whose warring factions, the other being headed by KPCC chief and fellow CM candidate-aspirant D K Shivakumar, have left it torn from within.
Siddaramaiah’s supporters had announced the event a few months ago with its scale and celebrations hurting the other power centre within the party. This led to the event, which was to be an ‘apolitical’ one (as declared by the supporters) that would celebrate the leader’s persona and achievements, to be declared a part of a formal party event.
‘It won't be a non-political event,’ said Shivakumar in the first week of July. ‘All of us will participate. Our leaders have formed a committee,’ Shivakumar had said then, addressing the media after a breakfast meeting with Siddaramaiah.
Ten days later though, Shivakumar was seen reacting to party MLA Zameer Ahmed‘s comment that the people of the state wanted to see Siddaramaiah as the CM: "everyone should keep their mouth shut and work to bring the party to power".
He has reiterated that the Congress was a high command-led party and that only the Gandhi mother-son duo could take decisions for it. This line was echoed by senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who also emphasised that the need of the hour was to build the party ‘to ensure it returns to power again’.
Preparations in Davanagere have been going on in full swing with Gandhi expected to arrive this evening. Shivakumar is in Delhi in connection with his ED hearing, and is said to join Gandhi, as per news reports. A special court granted him regular bail a few hours ago in the money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate.
Six to ten lakh people are expected to attend the bash, with fans having prepared a 3,000-metre long pictorial biography of the leader who has said 2023 would be his last election.
BJP leader and Karnataka Minister for IT Dr CN Ashwath Narayan quipped, saying Siddaramaiah had said the same on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday when they had a similar bash in the state.
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