Bengaluru, July 2 (IANS) Congress’ newly-installed Karnataka President D.K. Shivakumar on Thursday vowed to bring the party back to power in the southern state with the support of its leaders and cadres.
“I am assuming charge as the party’s state President with a promise to bring the Congress back to power in the state under collective leadership and support of our cadres,” he said at the party office here.
Addressing thousands of party’s cadres across the state through live streaming of the event, Shivakumar said he was grateful to Congress President Sonia Gandhi for giving him an opportunity to strengthen the party and returning to power for serving the people.
“Though the BJP tried its best to finish me off politically by sending me to Tihar jail in September (2019) after misusing the Income Tax office and the Enforcement Directorate to frame false cases, I have emerged stronger with the support of the party leadership,” he asserted.
Dressed in kurta-pyjama and sporting a white Nehru cap, Shivakumar said as he believed in collective leadership, he would take the help of senior leaders in gearing up the party for the next state assembly elections, due in 2023.
“I joined the party as an ordinary worker long ago and grew up over the years by working under the leadership of S. Bangarappa, S.M. Krishna, Dharam Singh, Mallikarjun Kharge and Siddaramaiah at the state level and under Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at the national level,” he said.
Shivakumar said he would adopt the model of the party’s Kerala unit to create leaders from the booth level.
Earlier, the 58-year-old Shivakumar took reins of the party’s state unit in style, with hundreds of party leaders and cadres witnessing the event which was streamed live.
“Shivakumar took oath as the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president on ‘Pratigna Dina’ (Day of Oath) inside the newly constructed auditorium at the party office in compliance with the lockdown guidelines, which restricted the gathering to about 50 people,” party leader M.A. Saleem told IANS here.
Party’s General Secretary K.C. Venugopal, newly-elected Rajya Sabha member from the state Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, former state chief Dinesh Gundu Rao, former Union Minister Rehman Khan and party’s women’s wing head Pushpa Amarnath were present on the occasion.
“Shivakumar’s loyalty towards the party is his best quality. We have seen many leaders desert the party in times of crisis. Despite facing problems caused by the NDA government, he stood by the party like a rock,” said Venugopal, who is in charge of the party’s state unit.
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi also greeted Shivakumar and wished him in his endeavour to revive the party after facing rout in the May 2019 general elections and May 2018 assembly polls in the state.
The over 4-hour long event began with the party’s rank and file paying homage to 20 martyrs of the Indian Army who died in a clash with Chinese soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15.
After hoisting the party’s flag and reciting ‘Vande Mataram’ to invoke the motherland, party’s state unit working president Saleem Ahmed welcomed all those at the venue and all those who watched the event remotely from across the state.
As per the party’s tradition, Gundu Rao handed over the Congress flag to Shivakumar.
All party leaders and cadres took constitutional pledge as administered by Khan. Shivakumar led the pledge of loyalty to the party, with all leaders and cadres joining him in unison.
Terming the event historic, Shivakumar said that though he took charge in the presence of a few party leaders due to restriction on a large gathering, hundreds of party leaders and cadres joined him in the virtual world from 7,800 places across the state through live streaming.
Though Shivakumar was appointed on March 11, he could not take charge then, due to the lockdown.
Shivakumar’s appointment came three months after Gundu Rao resigned on December 9 following the party’s debacle in the Assembly byelections on December 5, in which only 2 out of the 15 candidates won, while the ruling BJP got 12.
Shivakumar is a legislator from the Kanakapura assembly segment.