Bangalore, May 8: As the Congress secured a comfortable majority in Karnataka, all eyes are now on who will become the chief minister with the race now seen as having narrowed down to veteran M Mallikarjuna Kharge and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah.
Third contender and Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G Parameshwara defeat in Koratagere considerably weakened his claim for the top post, party sources said. While others have also thrown their hat in the ring, Kharge, the Union Labour and Employment Minister, and Siddaramaiah are seen as front-runners.
“I don't want the post because of my caste (Dalit). I am not interested because of long-standing service to the party. If they think that I am fit for the post, then it is up to them to take a decision. I will abide by any decision the high command takes,” Kharge said.
He was answering questions on whether he is in the race for the Chief Minister's post.
Siddaramaiah was more forthright. “I am one of the strong contenders,” he told reporters here.
A backward class leader who joined the Congress six years ago, Siddaramaiah said the decision on chief ministership was, however, left to the Congress high command and the legislature party.
On the electoral outcome, he said the people had given mandate to the Congress as they wanted a “stable and clean” government and were not in favour of a coalition.