MYSURU: With exit polls predicting a hung-assembly, many Congress leaders are seeing the possibility of being made the Chief Minister, especially after Siddaramaiah made it clear that he is willing to make way for a way for a Dalit CM.
Demand for a Dalit CM has been growing louder with KPCC President G Parameshwara emerging as the frontrunner and community leaders such as B Basavalingappa, K H Ranganath and Mallikarjuna Kharge also in the race.Parameshwara, the longest-serving KPCC President, is known to be a pliant leader, who is close to the party high command.
If Siddaramaiah has a say, he would throw his weight behind H C Mahadevappa, who is also a Dalit and who followed Siddaramaiah to Congress, from JD(S). He has served as a Minister in Janata Dal and Congress-JD(S) governments, and is close to Deve Gowda and may help break ice between Congress and JD(S), party sources said. Senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge could also be a contender, but he has said that he would be like to be considered because of his seniority and not because of his caste.
Party sources said that JD(S) may go along with a Dalit CM for two reasons: to stop a strong Ahinda leader like Siddaramaiah from coming back to power and to take credit for making a Dalit the Chief Minister.If the Congress-JD(S) combine looks for a non-Dalit Chief Minister, many including veterans R V Deshpande and Ramalinga Reddy will be considered, because they are known to be accommodating and to be close to Deve Gowda.
Karjol has a chance
If BJP and JD(S) cobble up a coalition, senior leader Govind Karjol will lead the CM race. In such a coalition, non-Dalit CM contenders would include Shobha Karandlaje, R Ashok and K S Eshwarappa. Ashok was the DyCM in the BJP government, in the Ananth Kumar camp. K S Eshwarappa, a backward-caste leader, has also served as the Deputy Chief Minister. Shobha, also a Vokkaliga, is a close associate of Yeddyurappa.
If the JD(S) is part of a coalition, H D Kumaraswamy may not accept anything less than the CM post and his brother H D Revanna will make a pitch DyCM post. With the Lok Sabha polls around the corner and with secular forces across the country joining hands, Gowda and his sons will be cautious about their choice. The party has been out of power for more than ten years and, wanting to do well in general elections, may retain its secular identity to regain confidence of Muslim voters who kept away from JD(S) in assembly polls.