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The ongoing tussle between top Karnataka Congress leaders, D.K. Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah over the question of the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming 2023 state elections, took a new turn on Saturday when Siddaramaiah asserted that none of the turncoat MLA will be welcomed back into Congress.

Leader of Opposition in Karnataka and former chief minister, Siddaramaiah told reporters on Saturday that no one from those 14 people who left the party to join the BJP will be added.

“I will talk to the state Congress president D.K. Shivakumar about this. I stand by my words. I had earlier also said in the Assembly that the 14 people who left the Congress for the BJP would not be taken back even if a flood occurs or the earth collapses.”

His comments came after Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Shivakumar, said ‘cheating’ and changing political parties was a ‘common phenomenon in politics’.

“Not just D.K. Shivakumar or the Congress, every party would have examples of such incidents. We had brought Pratap Gowda Patil from BJP. Hence, going to another political party and returning is common in politics,” Shivakumar told the media, adding that Congress will consider any applications it receives for membership and make a decision keeping the welfare of the party in mind.

The comments by the Congress leaders come amidst an emerging rift between Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah over the party’s Chief Ministerial face for the 2023 Assembly Polls.

Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday asked MLAs not to project him as the Chief Ministerial face for the 2023 assembly polls, amid widening fissures within the party on the issue, that has triggered a game of one-upmanship between him and state unit President D K Shivakumar. His statement came amid a growing list of MLAs who openly favored him as CM face despite diktat from the party leadership, which has irked Shivakumar, who is also nursing Chief Ministerial ambitions.

Meanwhile, Shivakumar had told reporters last month that he was not in a hurry to become the chief minister and that his focus was on bringing the Congress back to power in the state. Their statements had come despite AICC General Secretary in-charge of the State Randeep Singh Surjewala and Shivakumar’s diktat to party legislators and leaders not to make such open remarks.

Cadres and MLAs have been divided in their support to the two leaders ever since Shivakumar became the KPCC president last year.

On Friday, however, a full-page advertorial hailing Shivakumar for his relentless efforts to combat Covud-19 in Deccan Herald made headlines that were widely criticized by leaders across parties for its display of self-promotion.

Earlier, the two leaders had also locked horns over the nomination of president of the state youth Congress in February.

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