DK Shivakumar’s Lonely Fight For Congress On Visible Display

Congress leaders call DK Shivakumar “Sankat Mochan” (the one who eradicates pain, suffering, sorrow). And, today, the Karnataka veteran appeared to be the party’s last man standing outside Mumbai’s Renaissance Hotel, waiting for hours in the pouring rain to meet the rebel MLAs whose resignations are placed to bring down the Karnataka government.

All he had for company was a huge media contingent giving breathless updates and his Man Friday who organized grande-sized coffees to fuel DKS. Missing in action to support DKS were the warring leaders and workers of the Mumbai Congress who were busy attacking each other on social media.

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Karnataka’s ruling coalition hangs by a thread after a string of resignations by rebel lawmakers

Milind Deora, for example, who has quit as Maharashtra chief last week in expectations of a “national role”, first tweeted that he had phoned DKS and then stirred himself for a late afternoon drop-by after a huge outcry from Congress supporters on social media.

On Deora’s watch, the Congress lost all six seats in Mumbai in the recent general elections. Maharashtra votes for its state government in three months. And yet, its leaders are busy only with an unedifying and public power struggle. Sanjay Nirupam, who Deora replaced as state chief, has been openly attacking him on social media. Urmila Matondkar, who lost from Mumbai North, wrote a letter to Deora which was heavily critical of Nirupam’s aides and this was leaked. Nirupam then attacked Deora as a “young dynast” who had leaked the letter and tweeted that Deora had learnt these tricks from “his mentor Jaitley”. Mind-boggling in a party which is Dynasty Central and clearly guaranteed to make Nirupam win influential friends.

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The leak of Urmila Matondkar’s letter comes amid a public feud between Mumbai Congress leaders Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam

Contrast this leak versus ugly leak with Shivakumar’s absolute discipline. Even when he was kept out from from the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka in 2013, he did not say a word – publicly, at any rate. He was made a minister in 2014. DKS also ensured that Ahmed Patel won his Rajya Sabha election in 2017 by sequestering all MLAs in his resort. Perhaps for all his efforts, he was raided by the income tax department and Enforcement Directorate but has remained steadfast in his support.

Through the morning, DKS was constantly in touch with Sonia Gandhi and her political advisor, Ahmed Patel. I called DKS and he gave me his spiel of how all the Congress MLAs flocked together in Mumbai were his “friends who I love and who could never ditch me”. When I asked about the lack of support from Maharashtra leaders, DKS laughed and said the line is bad and he would call me.

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi who has triggered the crisis in the party with his resignation and raised slogans in parliament yesterday against Congress MLAs being poached, is on a belated trip to his traditional constituency Amethi which he lost.