Many Congress leaders may lobby for CM’s post

Prominent leaders who may jump into the race are Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, KPCC president G Parameshwara (both Dalit leaders), Vokkaliga leader D K Shivakumar and Lingayat leader M B Patil. Besides, there are chances of Siddaramaiah continuing in the post if the party comes close to a simple majority of 122 seats. PTI file photo

With exit polls predicting a hung assembly, many senior Congress leaders are eager to throw their hats in the ring for the chief minister’s post.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s statement, that he has no qualms in giving away the post if the party high command zeroes in on a Dalit, has rekindled the hopes of prominent leaders in the ruling party aspiring to occupy the chief minister’s post. However, much depends on the outcome of the election.

Prominent leaders who may jump into the race are Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, KPCC president G Parameshwara (both Dalit leaders), Vokkaliga leader D K Shivakumar and Lingayat leader M B Patil. Besides, there are chances of Siddaramaiah continuing in the post if the party comes close to a simple majority of 122 seats.

Sources in the Congress said these leaders are already in touch with some candidates who are likely to get elected as Independent MLAs. The Independent MLAs play a crucial role in case of a hung assembly. In 2008 for instance, BJP’s B S Yeddyurappa was able to form the government with the help of five Independent MLAs as his party had fallen short of a simple majority in the Legislative Assembly.

It is said that the Congress may approach H D Deve Gowda-led JD(S) to form the coalition government in the event of a hung assembly as the grand old party’s top priority will be to keep the BJP away from power.

Kharge, who missed an opportunity to become the chief minister in 2013, has already said he is ready to take up any responsibility that the high command gives. Parameshwara too missed the opportunity as he lost the election from Koratagere in 2013. Sources close to the state Congress chief said he of the view that his amenable nature will make him the best choice for running the coalition government.

Patil, who has positioned himself as a Lingayat face of the party, may emerge as a strong contender for the post if the ruling party manages to win a maximum number of seats in Lingayat-dominated constituencies, especially in North Karnataka. Patil had spearheaded the movement demanding minority religion status for the Lingayat faith.

Similarly, Shivakumar has emerged as the Vokkaliga face of the Congress after veteran leader S M Krishna quit the party. If the party performs well in the Vokkaliga belt of the Old Mysuru region, he will project himself as a contender.

It is said that influential mutts, which have a large following among Lingayat and Vokkaliga communities, may also throw their weight behind these leaders.

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Many Congress leaders may lobby for CM’s post

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