Sangama — the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers in Kanakapura taluk of Ramanagaram district, near here —seems to have brought together rival leaders in Congress, who on Sunday sent out a strong message of unity.
The Mekedatu padayatra, seeking early implementation of the project, brought together Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah and KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar — both seen as contenders for the Chief Minister’s post, and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha M. Mallikarjun Kharge on the same platform.
Seen as an event that is a precursor before the poll bugle is blown, the padayatra brought several ambitious party leaders from Bombay Karnataka, Kalyana Karnataka, and coastal Karnataka regions of the State together.
The event brought former KPCC chiefs R.V. Deshpande in whose tenure Mr. Siddaramaiah took off the padayatra to Ballari against illegal mining, and G. Parameshwara in whose term the Ballari to Kudalasangama padayatra had been taken out, were also present along with the three current working presidents of the party and a host of legislators and former legislators. Former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily was also present.
Multiple Congress sources in the run-up to the padayatra had told The Hindu that both Mr. Siddaramaiah and Mr. Shivakumar had realised the importance of remaining united to come to power. “Both have the bitter experience of power sharing with the Janata Dal (Secular) after the Congress headed by Mr. Siddaramaiah lost power. The selection of the Chief Minister is only after the victory in the election and both are looking to put up a joint fight for that victory in the Assembly elections in 2023,” said a senior leader.
Siddaramaiah returns to Bengaluru due to ill-health
After the symbolic start of the padayatra, some Congress leaders backed out owing to health reasons or harsh sun. Those who dropped out included the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who had earlier said that he along with KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar would walk the full distance to Bengaluru if the Government did not permit crowds. The former Chief Minister, who was running temperature, was advised to take rest by doctors, following which he returned to Bengaluru.
Only a few from film field take part
Though the film fraternity had extended moral support for the Mekedatu padayatra, only a few made it to the launch at Sangama. Those present included actors Duniya Vijaya and Sadhu Kokila. Actors and former Ministers Jaimala and Umashree, both Congress leaders, were also present. Sadhu Kokila had composed a song specifically for the padayatra.
The padayatra started on a colourful note with several folk teams performing at the venue. Many women legislators and former legislators carried kalashas filled with Cauvery water at the launch of the padayatra.