DK Shivakumar Is Karnataka Congress Chief, "Congrats", Says Siddaramaiah

Confirmation of DK Shivakumar's appointment came after the Congress watched four-time Madhya Pradesh MP Jyotiraditya Scindia join the BJP in a shock move

The Congress has appointed DK Shivakumar, party strongman, as chief of its Karnataka unit

Bengaluru:

The Congress finally has a new party chief in Karnataka, with the party leadership stating today that high-profile trouble-shooter DK Shivakumar will replace Dinesh Gundu Rao.

"I thank Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and senior party leaders for placing their trust in me and appointing me as KPCC (Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee) President. I will work unitedly with all leaders as a karyakarta (worker)to serve the people of Karnataka and bring Congress back to power in the state," Mr Shivakumar said on his Twitter account..

Outgoing KPCC President Mr Rao had resigned from his post last year soon after the party's dismal performance in December by-polls, in which 11 former Congress and JDS rebel MLAs were re-elected to the seats from which they had resigned and triggered the fall of the state's Congress-JDS coalition.

However, DK Shivakumar, who led the Congress-JDS government's fight for survival last year as he tracked down rebel MLAs to a hotel in Mumbai, will have more to worry about than just the condition of Karnataka Congress.

He is facing corruption charges and even spent time in Delhi's Tihar Jail; he had been jailed over allegations of money laundering and was released on a bond of Rs 25 lakhs.

In addition, there are those who believe the crisis that led to the Congress losing power in the state in July last year was because one of the first MLAs who rebelled - Ramesh Jarkiholi - was upset over what he felt was interference by Mr Shivakumar in his home district of Belagavi in north Karnataka.

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DK Shivakumar spent time in Delhi's Tihar Jail last year over money laundering allegations

Mr Jarkiholi is now with the BJP and is a minister in Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa's cabinet. His brother, Satish Jarkiholi, remains with the Congress and is now KPCC Working President, with Eshwar Khandre (who already held the post) and Saleem Ahmed.

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah tweeted shortly after Mr Shivakumar's appointment was revealed, saying he would "strengthen the party".

"My hearty congratulations to DK Shivakumar for being appointed President of INC Karnataka. I thank Sonia Gandhi for appointing the new President. I am confident he will further strengthen the party and also the party workers will strengthen him," he said.

As per notifications from the party's leadership in Delhi, Mr Siddharamaiah, who had also resigned after the by-polls, continues as leader of the legislative party and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly.

The BJP reacted with a swipe at the new appointee and the condition of the Congress in the state.

Health Minister B Sriramulu said: "DK Shivakumar has become KPCC President. The situation is such that we don't know when the Titanic will sink. And DK Shivakumar has been made the captain of that ship in Karnataka. Personally, I congratulate him."

Meanwhile, confirmation of Mr Shivakumar's appointment came shortly after four-time Madhya Pradesh Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the BJP in a shock move that has left the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government on the brink of collapse.

Mr Scindia's resignation and crossover came amid rumblings from within the Congress over the manner in which young leaders were being side-lined in favour of veteran politicians.

With input from ANI

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