DK Shivakumar, the Congress’s trouble-shooter in Karnataka, has delivered results, once again. He was assigned the job of taking back Ballari, a Congress stronghold since independence, which has stayed with the BJP in the past 14 years. Mission accomplished.
“A tough challenge was given to me by my party; I thank my leaders for restoring their confidence in me,” Mr Shivakumar told NDTV, offering sweets from the boxes piled up on his coffee table.
The Congress won bypolls in four of five seats in Karnataka. In the Ballari parliamentary seat, the party’s VS Ugrappa surged ahead of the BJP’s V Shantha within an hour of counting. Ms J Shantha, a former MP, is the sister of B Sriramulu, who left the seat to contest the May assembly polls. The gap only became wider and stopped at around 2.4 lakh.
“We had a very strategic plan from the beginning. Starting from the selection of the candidate till the day of the election process,” Mr Shivakumar said. His political smarts came to the rescue when the BJP won the most number of seats in the May assembly polls but fell short of a majority. He kept the Congress and Janata Dal Secular (JDS) flock together, ferrying busloads of lawmakers in and out of town, even dragging a “runaway” Congress leader away from waiting BJP leaders.
Soon after the Congress-JDS came to power, Mr Shivakumar had central investigating agencies on his trail, over illegal wealth allegations. There was also stiff resistance within the party to any high profile position for him. So despite everything, he remains controversial for his party.
“Only controversial leaders are beneficial. Only controversial leaders are successful. I didn’t want to be a controversial man. They wanted to make me more controversial. More stronger a leader, more are the enemies. Less strong, less enemies. No strong, no enemies. More work, more mistakes. Less work, less mistakes, no work, no mistake (sic).”
There’s a buzz that this time round, Congress President Rahul Gandhi will reward him. “Left to him, he said, he would just like to spend some time as he wants. “Let me give more attention to my family members, to my constituency. I will be more than happy.”
Mr Shivkumar said “as far as the south India is concerned the Ram Mandir issue cannot be made a political plank by the BJP. People here only look at what benefit they are going to get on the social sector, on the administration, on the economic sector, on transparency, and so on.”