Bangalore: The Congress Friday set a record by swiftly naming Siddaramaiah as its chief minister in Karnataka - just about four hours after the meeting of central observers with its newly-elected legislators here. This is perhaps the shortest time the party has taken to decide on its leader in a state.
The central observers' team led by Defence Minister A.K. Antony began meeting the 121 legislators individually to know their choice around 12.30 p.m. in the party's office on the busy Queen's Road in the heart of the city, and at 5 p.m., the decision was announced.
Perhaps this is the first time in the recent Congress history that the party completed all formalities in the state capital itself and that too within hours, giving the go-by to the usual practice of legislators "authorising" the high command and then formally selecting the leader, which would take a day or two, sometimes even more.
This practice, believed to have been started by the late prime minister Indira Gandhi, had led to derisive comments that Congress chief ministers are 'lifafas' (envelopes) as the high command decision was supposed to come in a sealed cover.
Antony's announcement took the media by surprise as the hordes of media personnel thronging the Congress office since morning expected him and his team to leave for Delhi soon after the meeting to brief Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
However, there was expectation that the decision would be announced later Friday or the latest by Saturday, which too, if it had happened, would have been a record of sorts for the party.