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Should I remain as CM or not? Siddaramaiah''s emotional appeal to Varuna voters in LS polls

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Mysuru/Mandya (Karnataka), Apr 1 (PTI) Amid speculations about leadership change, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday asked the people of his Varuna assembly segment to give the Congress candidate a lead of at least 60,000 votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, to ensure that he remains in the post.

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In Mandya, Deputy Chief Minister and state Congress President D K Shivakumar, who has made no secret about his Chief Ministerial ambitions, told the people that the desire with which they supported the party in the assembly poll in May last year, keeping him in mind, "will not turn out to be false." The statements gain significance amid persistent rumours about leadership change in the ruling Congress in the state after Lok Sabha polls or mid-way of the current assembly's tenure.

"In 2019 (Lok Sabha polls) Dhruvanarayan (Congress candidate) lost by a margin of only 1,817 votes.... This time in the Assembly you made me win by giving a lead of 48,000 votes (in Varuna). Will you give the same lead or more now? (Our candidate should win ) with a lead of at least 60,000 votes," Siddaramaiah said.

Addressing a public meeting, he said: "In Varuna you know me, as well as (H C) Mahadevappa (Minister). I'm your representative, (my son) Yathindra is a former MLA from here (Varuna). When we are all there there should be a lead of at least 60,000 votes." "If you make (Congress candidate) victorious by a lead of 60,000 votes, I will be happy. No one will be able to touch me. Should I remain (as Chief Minister) or not? So I request you with folded hands...I will come back to thank you after winning," he added.

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Siddarmaiah's Varuna assembly segment comes under Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha constituency, from where Minister Mahadevappa's son Sunil Bose is the Congress candidate.

Meanwhile, asking voters to support Congress in the Vokkaliga bastion of Mandya, Shivakumar said: "I want to tell you that, keeping me in mind, you gave more seats (in assembly polls to Congress) in Mandya district. Your desire will not turn out to be false. You need not worry." He said Congress has given tickets to eight Vokkaligas in the Lok Sabha polls.

Openly expressing his Chief Ministerial aspirations ahead of assembly polls, Shivakumar had asked Vokkaliga community, to which he belongs, not to lose out an opportunity with him as the party's state unit president, while pointing out that S M Krishna was the last Vokkaliga to lead the party in the polls and then went on to become the CM in 1999.

There was stiff competition between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar for the Chief Minister's post after the Assembly election results in May last year, and the Congress had managed to convince the latter and made him the Deputy Chief Minister.

There were some reports at the time that a compromise had been reached based on a "rotational Chief Minister formula," according to which Shivakumar will become CM after two-and-half years but they have not been officially confirmed by the party. PTI KSU RS RS

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