The Karnataka cliffhanger just got a fresh twist with state party chief DK Shivakumar, one of the two contenders for the Chief Minister's post, suddenly cancelling his trip to Delhi. The 61-year-old, who was expected to reach on Monday evening after summons from the party's Central leadership, cited ill health.
"Sonia Gandhi told me, 'I have confidence in you that you will deliver Karnataka'. I am sitting here, doing my regular responsibility. You should have the basic courtesy, a bit of gratitude. They should have the courtesy to acknowledge who is behind the win," he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Asked what if his move is seen as rebellion, Mr Shivakumar said, "I won't blackmail, that's not me. Don't perceive anything. I have my own presence of mind. I am not a child. I won't fall in a trap".
Responding to Mr Siddaramaiah's claim that he has the support of the MLAs, he said, "I wish him all the best."
Mr Siddaramaiah, who is already in the national capital, was expected to meet party chief Mallikarjun Kharge and other leaders this evening. But the meeting did not happen, said senior party leader Randeep Surjewala.
Both leaders were called to Delhi by the Central leaders after leaders deployed by the Congress to sense the mood among the party MLAs, submitted their report.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Shivakumar had claimed he has the "numbers" -- meaning MLAs who have to choose their leader at the Legislature Party meeting.
"Yesterday 135 MLAs have given their opinion and passed a one-line resolution, few have expressed their personal opinion. My power is the 135 MLAs. Under my leadership, the Congress has won 135 seats," he told reporters.
He also took credit for rebuilding the party after the coalition government with HD Kumaraswamy collapsed as nearly 20 MLAs left and joined the BJP.
"A single man with courage makes a majority and I have proved it. I don't want to disclose what all has happened in the last five years," he told reporters. "When our MLAs went out of the party, I did not lose heart and took the responsibility with courage. Mallikarjun Kharge is the senior leader and Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have confidence in us. We will leave the matter to them," he added.
Choosing between Mr Shivakumar and Mr Siddaramaiah while keeping the peace, will be tricky for the Congress.
While Mr Shivakumar is known for his role as the strategist and trouble shooter of the party, Mr Siddaramaiah, a former Chief Minister, is one of the biggest mass leaders of the state.
Mr Shivakumar, though, is being investigated in several corruption cases. In contrast Mr Siddaramaiah enjoys a clean image. The 75-year-old, in a message to the party leadership, has also said this election will be his last.
A special NDTV survey in partnership with Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) has found that he is the most popular choice for the post. More than 40 per cent people said he would be their choice for the post.