Party is one thing, personal feelings another, says DK Shivakumar

On a day when Congress leaders jockeyed for the post of deputy chief minister exposing the cracks in the Grand Old Party, one man insisted he would do exactly what the party ordered – D.K. Shivakumar openly acknowledged to this newspaper that he had serious reservations about resolving his long running feud with the Deve Gowda clan, the family of the de facto power behind the throne in Karnataka's new power equation. But the Congress party's fast emerging strongman D.K Shivakumar was equally clear that his personal problems with the Deve Gowda family and his long running feud with the incoming chief minister H D Kumraswamy was a thing of the past. “I’m a loyal party worker, who will abide by whatever the party decision is,” DK Shivakumar said. 

The battle dates back to 1985, when he stood against the former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda at Sathanur Assembly constituency, and lost. But in 1989, he won the same constituency, defeating Mr Kumaraswamy after a bruising confrontation that became physical.

Since then, he hasn’t looked back. After delimitation of the constituencies, and Sathanur merged with Kanakapura Assembly constituency and he has been winning from there. But Mr Shivakumar's mojo stems not just from his ability to win Kanakapura but in ensuring that as a trouble shooter extraordinaire for the Congress party, he does what's required when and where its needed. While Mr S Bangarappa made him minister first, he soon became the blue-eyed boy of Mr S M Krishna. But it  was during this poll that he came into his own,. 

As the crisis mounted with the BJP pulling out all the stops as they tried to poach legislators for forming its own government, Mr Shivakumar pulled out all the stops to ensure no legislators slipped out of the Congress' net. This was despite the fact that the party was joining hands with his arch rivals — Mr Deve Gowda and his family. At the end of a hard fought campaign, of which he was the Campaign committee Chairman,  D.K Shivakumar felt it was only right that the rewards should accrue – if not a deputy chief minister's post today, a KPPC or an AICC post thereafter.Rushing out of a closed door session with the party chiefs, he spoke to Vinay Madhav. Excerpts from the  interview:

What do you feel about Congress joining hands with JD(S), who are traditional rivals?
It is a party stand and not a personal one. Being a loyal party worker, I abide by whatever decision taken by the party. Of course… there are sentiments. We did not have a majority and there was a need to stop the BJP. The party has taken the right decision, I feel.

 Do you feel that the party workers, who bitterly fought against each other during the elections will be disappointed by this decision of their leaders?
That problem will be there. However, we, the leaders have to sort it out the problem is at the grass root level. We have to convince the workers that the decision was taken by high command for the good of party. We will do what we can to reassure the party workers on this score.

You have had a running feud with Mr Deve Gowda and his family members. Do you feel let down by the party decision to join hands with them?
My party has nothing to do with my personal problems. I have to sort them out by myself. My personal problems with Mr Deve Gowda and his family members is not important. What matters now is the party and the decision my party takes.

Do you have problems with joining a cabinet headed by Mr Kumaraswamy?
Absolutely no problem. I can work with anyone, if my party desires so. Basically, we work for the party and not for persons.

Which one would make you feel better? Joining the cabinet or going to work for the party to prepare the ground for 2019 Parliament elections which are due in 2019?
That has to be decided by the party. I work in all directions (sic) and the party high command will decide how my services have to be utilised. I have no reservations about going for party work and that also will be a big responsibility. Let us wait till I get directions from the party. 

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