Internal fight in Congress on Karnataka CM’s post gains full speed

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BANGALORE: Internal fight within the Congress for Chief Ministership gained full speed today as contenders sought to vigorously push their claim in behind-the-scene action, with Siddaramaiah and M Mallikarjuna Kharge still seen as front-runners.

Union Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily’s name is also making the rounds in the last couple of days, giving a new spin to the scheme of things. Moily, a former Chief Minister, is said to be a favourite of the party’s central leadership.

Siddaramaiah’s Bangalore residence was a hub of activity today as several MLAs loyal to him thronged it.

“High Command will decide (on the Chief Ministership)”, Siddaramaiah and Kharge said separately.

The Congress yesterday bagged 121 seats in the 224-member Assembly, dethroning the BJP government.

Siddaramaiah, a former deputy Chief Minister, joined the Congress in 2006 and carries the “outsider tag” in some sections of the party. He also sought to play the sympathy card by announcing that the May five elections was the last poll of his life.

Kharge, the Union Labour and Employment Minister, is a seasoned politician and had served as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President and Leader of Opposition.

More have thrown their hat in the ring. They include former KPCC President R V Deshapande, former Working President of KPCC D K Shivakumar, senior Lingayat leader Shyamanur Shivashankarappa and T B Jayachandra, who served as Deputy Floor Leader of Congress in the outgoing Assembly.

“There is nothing wrong in aspiring to be Chief Minister. There is no competition, and there are no differences (among the contenders). Everybody will abide the high command decision”, Deshpande said.

A high-command empowered team is set to come to Bangalore to elicit the views of the legislators on the issue of Chief Ministership, party sources said.

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