Amid growing speculations of a rift between Congress's top Karnataka leaders Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar on the claim to the Chief Minister's post in the event that the grand old party forms the next government, the latter today asserted that he is not concerned about who in the party would be the candidate, but wants to work hard first to ensure the party comes to power in the state. Although he did point out that he brought the party into a competitive position as head of the party in the state.
Mr Shivakumar said there are many other leaders apart from them in the state, and all have to work together against "the most corrupt government Karnataka has ever seen". He said the state has become the "capital of corruption" under BJP rule.
Speaking to NDTV, he denied any infighting with his party colleague. There is "no question of a divided house" and the Congress party stands united in Karnataka, he said.
"It's totally false. First, it is our duty to throw this BJP government and let us come to power. Then my party high command will decide who has to lead," he added.
Last month, tension intensified as Mr Shivakumar - an influential leader from the Vokkaliga community - expressed his desire to become the next chief minister.
Clarifying his remark that the state should have a Chief Minister from the Vokkaliga community, he said he had appealed to his community to "bless him" as the state party chief so that Congress is voted to power.
Siddaramaiah had a five-year stint as the Chief Minister before the Congress was forced to tie up with HD Kumaraswamy, the chief of Janata Dal (Secular), in 2018 to keep the BJP out of power. Mr Shivakumar by then had carved out a space for himself as the party's troubleshooter and was eventually made the state Congress chief.
On whether hiring professionals to manage his publicity is an attempt to get an edge over Siddaramaiah, Mr Shivakumar said all political parties hire experts for "technical support".
The new generation is looking at a digital medium and professionals offer good advice in reaching out to more people, he said, denying it's a move to pitch himself as the Chief Ministerial candidate.