NEW DELHI, May 16 (PTI): Amid the race for the Karnataka chief minister’s post, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday met party president Mallikarjun Kharge and discussed government formation in the southern state.
Gandhi drove to Kharge’s residence and held a closed-door meeting with the Congress chief for almost an hour and a half. Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Karnataka, and AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal were also present at the meeting.
Kharge earlier held discussions with party leaders from Karnataka and the three observers appointed by him to oversee the Congress Legislature Party meeting held in Bengaluru on Sunday.
The observers had sought the opinion of all newly-elected MLAs and also held a ‘secret ballot’ on their choice for chief minister. The observers discussed the findings of their report after speaking to the party MLAs in Karnataka and handed it over to Kharge Monday night.
Both Siddaramaiah and state Congress president D K Shivakumar are front runners for the chief minister’s post and both are lobbying for it.
While former chief minister Siddaramaiah is in Delhi, Shivakumar arrived in the national capital Tuesday afternoon. After arriving at Delhi airport, he did not speak to the media and walked away with folded hands parrying a barrage of questions from reporters.
Shivakumar had earlier cancelled his visit to the national capital on Monday evening citing health issues, fuelling speculations that all is not well in the party.
Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar will hold discussions with party chief Kharge, as well as with other senior leaders over government formation in Karnataka. Both leaders are also expected to meet former party chief Rahul Gandhi.
Sources said former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi would also be consulted over the choice of chief minister and government formation in Karnataka.
The newly-elected Congress MLAs have already passed a resolution authorising party chief Kharge to appoint a leader of the Congress Legislature party, who will be the chief minister.
In the just-concluded Assembly elections, the Congress scored an emphatic victory with 135 seats while the ruling BJP and the former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) secured 66 and 19 seats, respectively.