Congress troubleshooter DK Shivakumar officially took charge as the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC Thursday, in a grand event that was streamed live for party leaders and cadres across the state.
The oath-taking ceremony or ‘Prathigna Dina’ that took place at the new KPCC office at the Queens Road in Bengaluru central had just 150 party leaders in attendance.
However, to reach out to its party workers up to the grassroots level, the Congress, for the first time, decided to use technology in a big way and live-streamed the event to 7, 831 locations in the state through 12,000 LEDs placed in 6,608 panchayats, 30,000 Zoom platforms, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter live. There was also a telecast of the event in regional TV channels across the state.
According to the Congress, the event reached more than 50 lakh people.
A former minister and the incumbent Kanakapura MLA, Shivakumar was appointed KPCC president on March 11, when he replaced Dinesh Gundu Rao who had resigned after Congress’ dismal performance in the bypolls held in 15 constituencies in November 2019.
Owing to COVID-19 lockdown, Shivakumar had delayed the official takeover of his new office.
Shivakumar took over as president along with Eshwar Khandre, Salim Ahmed, and Satish Jarkiholi who took charge as KPCC presidents.
Speaking at the event, Shivakumar said he was keen to make the Congress a cadre-based party in the state. “Joining together is the beginning, thinking together is progress, working together is a success,” he said.
Stressing on bringing the party back at the helm in Karnataka and the Centre, the new KPCC chief said: “This is a historic day for me, workers of the Congress and to the people of Karnataka. I will always remain a party worker even if I am the president. When I was in jail, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and all my party leaders gave me strength and stood behind me. I stand here as a result of that support. I believe in collective leadership.”
Shivakumar also shared that Sonia Gandhi had visited him in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail where he was lodged after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in a money-laundering case on September 3 and was lodged in Tihar jail in New Delhi. “I was in jail and Madam Sonia Gandhi came and met me and spoke to me for an hour and assured me that she was with me,” he said.
Rahul, Priyanka Gandhi extended their wishes
In the middle of the event, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra called Shivakumar to convey their wishes. Former KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao put the Wayanad MP’s phone call on speaker for all to hear.
“Congratulations to DK Shivakumar ji and Congress party, I hope Shivakumar ji will work in the interest of the party and the people of Karnataka, in particular the weaker sections and those who are struggling during this time. There is a lot of work the Congress party has to do, during COVID and during the economic disaster that Mr Narendra Modi has visited upon this country. I am confident that Congress and DK Shivakumar ji will work with full effort to ensure that we are successful, “ Rahul Gandhi said.
“As a KPCC president you have to carry every single Congressman with you, I know you will do that,” he added.
The oath-taking ceremony began with paying homage to the 20 Indian soldiers who were killed in an India-China faceoff at Galwan Valley last month in Ladakh. After Dinesh Gundu Rao gave the Congress’s party flag, in a symbolic gesture of handing over the charge, Shivakumar along with party workers who had joined digitally read out the Preamble of the Constitution.
Senior Congress leader B L Shankar said: “The event has been viewed by 16,743 people via Zoom, 20 lakh people watched through social media platforms like Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook and around 56 lakh people have watched through various mediums like TV, etc.”
Shivakumar’s journey to become KPCC chief
Shivakumar is often referred to as Congress’ troubleshooter. . A seven-time legislator, Doddalahalli Kempegowda Shivakumar, popularly known as DKS, has always lived up to his “proactive and loyal” image as a leader who has almost always resolved any crisis in the party..
However, in July last year, he failed to pacify rebel MLAs and keep the coalition government intact when the HD Kumaraswamy government lost the confidence motion in the Assembly by six votes in a House where 20 coalition MLAs remained absent. The Congress-JD(S) alliance collapsed after only 14 months of coming to power.
DKS earned the tag of a ‘troubleshooter’ ever since he hosted Congress MLAs from Maharashtra in Bengaluru as the Vilasrao Deshmukh-led government faced a similar crisis back in 2001. His managerial acumen to keep the flock together had made him popular in the corridors of power in Delhi.
A keen political strategist, DKS later made headlines in August 2017 when he successfully managed to keep 42 Gujarat MLAs in a resort in the outskirts of Bangalore. He was widely credited for handling the situation that is believed to have led to Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel’s victory in the Rajya Sabha polls.
DKS was then picked by the Congress high command to safeguard legislators soon after the 2018 Karnataka assembly elections results were announced on May 15..
Elected from Kanakapura, a constituency that was once a JD(S) bastion, situated 55 km south to the state capital, Shivakumar’s skills in preventing the legislators from being lured by the BJP saw then three-day Chief minister BS Yeddyurappa not even going for a floor test in the Assembly to prove majority. This paved the way for the incumbent Kumaraswamy-led coalition government to take over on May 23, 2018.
Shivakumar was first elected to the Karnataka Assembly in 1989 from Sathanur when he defeated JD(S) supremo HD Devegowda. A decade later, DKS went on to defeat HD Kumaraswamy from the same constituency. DKS secured his hat-trick win from Kanakapura in the 2018 elections.
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