In signs that the truce between new Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy DK Shivakumar may be fragile, a minister has caused a stir by suggesting that there is no power-sharing formula between the two.
Karnataka Minister MB Patil has summoned fresh trouble for the Congress by saying that Mr Siddaramaiah will continue as Chief Minister for a full five-year term and that there is no power-sharing deal.
"Siddaramaiah will complete the full term as the Chief Minister of Karnataka. If there was any power-sharing formula, the high command would have communicated the same. There's no such thing as power sharing," Mr Patil told reporters in response to questions.
On unconfirmed reports speculating about a change after the 2024 national election, Mr Patil said: "If that was the case, our AICC (All India Congress Committee) General Secretary (KC Venugopal) would have told you during the press conference. He said no such thing."
The minister said Mr Venugopal had similarly said, "Only power-sharing is with the people."
In response, DK Shivakumar cautiously said the Congress leadership would take care of it and was aware of the decision taken on power-sharing.
"Let people say whatever they want. There's AICC General Secretary, there's Chief Minister and there's AICC president (Mallikarjun Kharge)," the Deputy Chief Minister said today.
The BJP, just ousted from power in the May 10 Karnataka election, seized on the latest rumble in the Congress.
"Certainly, you will see the differences in the days to come. As far as the power-sharing, we are least bothered," said BJP MLA BY Vijayendra, the son of former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.
After its big victory in Karnataka, the Congress confronted days of hard negotiations as its top two in the state, Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar, refused to budge on their demands.
Mr Shivakumar, 61, relented after Sonia Gandhi stepped in and settled for the role of number 2 in a Siddaramaiah-led government, but details of a so-called power-sharing deal are not known. He would also stay Karnataka Congress chief for now, the party said.
Many Congress leaders have claimed that Mr Shivakumar could take over as Chief Minister after half-term, but no one is on record.
The two were sworn in on Saturday. Now the Congress has to decide on expanding the cabinet amid intense lobbying by rival groups.