A cloth banner running for a length of 3 km with pictures from his life, a music album with songs about him, and a meal for 5 lakh supporters are among the highlights of the 75th birthday celebrations of former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah being held in Karnataka’s Davangere on Wednesday.
The 75th birthday celebration of the Congress leader has been put together by several supporters of the former chief minister in an attempt to display the popular support and the financial backing that he enjoys in the Congress in Karnataka ahead of the 2023 state polls, which the party feels is likely to swing in its favour.
Top Congress leaders including AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, general secretary K C Venugopal, and the state Congress chief D K Shivakumar are among the prominent guests for the event. Missing from the attendance list at the event are veteran Congress leaders K H Muniyappa and S R Patil who are opposed to Siddaramaiah’s dominance in the Congress.
The celebrations are being held at the Shamanur Palace Grounds in the Davangere region of central Karnataka, which is considered centrally located and accessible to people from all corners of the state. Davangere is also considered an auspicious site to begin campaigns since the Congress in the past has won state elections when the poll bugle has been sounded from this region.
While the city has been flooded with posters and cut-outs of Siddaramaiah and other Congress leaders, a cloth banner running for a 3km stretch is one of the highlights of the celebrations. The banner showcasing the life of Siddaramaiah in the form of a film reel has been created by a supporter from Saundatti, identified as Anand Chopra. The banner was printed in Surat and brought to Davangere on Tuesday.
A music album created to mark Siddaramaiah’s 75th birthday has songs saying he is 75 like India, which celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence this August 15. Songs praising Siddaramaiah as a political leader and casting him as the future chief minister of the state are also part of the album.
The cooking for the event began on July 27 and the local caterers have made as many as 6 lakh Mysore Pak sweets to be distributed. As many as 400 food stalls will be serving Bisi Bele Bath, Veg Pulao, Curd Rice, and Mysore Pak for the expected 5 lakh participants in the celebration on Wednesday afternoon.
A cultural program is also arranged to mark the celebrations with a laser show. “It is only an Amrithotsav for the birthday and not a Siddaramautsav. It is also a celebration of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi,” Siddaramaiah said ahead of the event. “The Congress party will be strengthened by the event,” he said.
Unlike a birthday celebration for former BJP CM B S Yediyurappa, which even Opposition leaders like Siddaramaiah attended, the Siddaramaiah celebrations are largely a Congress event with no Opposition leaders in attendance.
The Congress leadership has tried to reduce the focus on the event for Siddaramaiah with AICC leaders Rahul Gandhi and Venugopal visiting a Lingayat mutt in the region to draw the support of the dominant Lingayat community in north Karnataka.
“We have nothing to worry about Siddaramautsav. We are devotees of God Siddarama. We perform utsava for God every day,” Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said in response to the grand celebrations.