Many in race for CM's post

Observers from Delhi arriving today to seek legislators' opinion

Many in race for CM's post

As the Congress started the process of government formation in Karnataka by convening the legislature party meeting for Friday, the two main contenders for the chief minister’s post—Siddaramaiah and Mallikarjun Kharge—have initiated behind-the-scene efforts to muster the support of party MLAs.

A number of other senior leaders have also joined the race for the post of chief minister.
Both Siddaramaiah and Kharge, who were camping in Bangalore on Thursday, are understood to have spoken to all MLAs over the phone and sought their support.

Besides, Siddaramaiah held a meeting with some MLAs loyal to him at a private hotel till late in the evening, drawing up strategies for pushing his candidature for the coveted post. About 15 MLAs took part in the meeting.

The party high command, meanwhile, appointed a team of observers led by Defence Minister A K Antony to oversee the crucial Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting scheduled for 12 noon at the KPCC main office on Queen’s Road on Friday.

The observers, sources said, are likely to hold one-on-one meetings with each of the legislators and elicit their opinion. It will be the first CLP meeting after the party won a comfortable majority on Wednesday. Jitendra Singh, Luizinho Faleiro and Madhusudan Mistry are the other team members. They will arrive in Bangalore on Friday morning.

The observers will submit a report to AICC president Sonia Gandhi after taking the legislators’ opinion. If the legislature party is found to be divided in its opinion, the observers may go in for passing a resolution in the legislature party meeting, authorising Sonia to take the final call. D K Shivakumar, who claimed himself to be fit and eligible for the post, demanded that the legislature party hold election in a democratic way for selecting the chief minister candidate.

Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Mistry, however, said the name of the chief minister would be finalised at the meeting. “The chief minister has to be the choice of the party MLAs. It will essentially be their decision,” he said, refusing to comment on who could be made the chief minister among those in the race. He was confident that the name of the new chief minister would be finalised by Friday evening itself.

KPCC chief G Parameshwara, who lost the election, tried to position himself as a strong contender. He, however, indicated that he would back Kharge for the post if his name came up for consideration.

Parameshwara, it is said, still has hopes that the party high command will reward him for his effort in bringing the party to power after a gap of seven years. Moreover, he has maintained a good image of himself in the eyes of high command and that may work in his favour.

D KShivakumar,who is trying to project himself as the Vokkaliga leader of the party, claimed himself to be a contender. His argumentis that the party will benefit immensely in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections if a Vokkaliga leader is made the chief minister.

This apart, Union Minister M Veerappa Moily, former KPCC chief R V Deshpande, T B Jayachandra and Shamnoor Shivashankarappa have also claimed that they are in the race. But all the contenders have said they will abide by the high command’s decision.
A former minister, Jayachandra,  met senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes in New Delhi on Thursday and requested him to consider his case for the coveted post.

What they said

I am a strong contender, and I am in good terms with all 120 MLAs. But it is left to the wisdom and discretion of the high command to select the right candidate.
Siddaramaiah

The high command will select the chief minister candidate in the interest of the party and the State. I am confident that the party will pick a capable leader for the post.
Mallikarjun Kharge

I am capable of taking up the responsibility of CM’s post. I have made imme­nse sacrifice for the party. The CM candidate should be elected.
D K Shivakumar

I am capable to head the govt and ready to take up the responsibility if Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi give me an opportunity.
G Parameshwara

I am also a contender. However, I don’t believe in lobbying. I will accept the responsibility if high command choses to give me.
R V Deshpande

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