The Karnataka Congress is rejoicing the release of the party's troubleshooter DK Shivakumar after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged money laundering in September.
DKS has appeared in a new avatar with his salt and pepper look and a straight face as always. Now the question for the state Congress is, what is their strategy for the upcoming by-polls on December 5 and where does Shivakumar fit in?
The party leadership in the state has changed after Shivakumar was arrested and Siddaramiah's appointment as the opposition leader, a position which was eyed by DKS. With the return of the Congress strongman, the party is in a state of tussle over its leadership as DK Shivakumar has a stronghold in the state just like Siddaramaiah.
Shivakumar, who hails from the dominant Vokkaliga community has strong support from the community and it was displayed when he was arrested by the ED. The incarceration of Shivakumar had created a riotous situation in several parts of Karnataka due to the popularity of DKS among the party and its leaders.
Thousands of people from the Vokkaliga community and Congress had protested in Bengaluru demanding the release of Shivakumar. The party high command is also likely to favour Shivakumar as he had played a crucial role for the Gandhi family during 2017 elections when he safeguarded 40 MLAs from Gujarat at his Eagleton resort which helped in the victory of a senior party leader and a loyalist of the Gandhi family, Ahmed Patel.
Siddaramaiah hails from Kuruba community which contribute 12 percent population in the state and has the support of AHINDA (backward communities including minorities and Dalits). Whereas DKS supporters are mostly Vokkaligas, Siddaramaiah has a mass appeal among the people from all over Karnataka.
Both the Congress leaders are ambitious for the chief ministerial post and have an unspoken internal conflict with between them. While Shivakumar took the risks for the party and was firm on his ground while several Congressmen changed their alliance, will the party high command favour him or stand by Siddaramaiah?