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Who will be Karnataka's next chief minister?

Last updated on: May 10, 2013 13:00 IST

Who will be Karnataka's next chief minister?

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Vicky Nanjappa

Even as the Congress Legislature Party is set to meet on Friday afternoon to elect the new Karnataka chief minister, at the moment, it appears that it would be a closely contested battle between Siddaramaiah and Mallikarjuna Kharge.

Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa profiles the two leaders:

Mallikarjuna Kharge

Born in 1942, Kharge is an old Congress war horse. A man of relatively clean image, Kharge has the distinction of winning a record 10 elections in a row.

Born in Warwatti, this Dalit leader is a law graduate. He started off his political career as a student leader in Gulbarga, north Karnataka.

He was a labour leader for a while before joining the Congress in 1969.

His first contested and won from the Gurmitkal seat in 1972. In 1974, he was made the chairman of the Leather Department Corporation and two years later he became the minister for primary education.

The first thing that Kharge undertook as minister was fill up the backlog of 16,000 vacancies of SC/ST teachers.

After his 1978 election win he was appointed as rural development and panchayati raj minister. In 1980, he was the minister for revenue. In 1985, when the Congress sat out of power, he was the deputy leader of opposition. In 1990, he became the revenue minister.

In 1999, for the first time, people saw quite a vocal Kharge. The Congress had swept the state and Kharge was a front runner for the post of chief minister. He was, however, beaten to it by S M Krishna. Kharge was made the home minister then.

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When the Congress formed the government with the JD-S in 2004, he was once again a front runner, but lost out to N Dharam Singh. Kharge was made the transport and water resources minister.

In 2009, Kharge was appointed as labour and employment minister in the Union government.

What may work in Siddaramaiah's favour:

His experience in administrative affairs.

According to his colleagues and also the bureaucracy, he takes everyone into confidence before taking a decision instead of forcing his views.

He has a relatively clean image and is very non-controversial.

What may NOT work in Siddaramaiah's favour:

He focuses too much on northern Karnataka.

He is at times very soft and takes time for making individual decisions.

The age factor could spoil his charges.

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Siddaramaiah 

A two-time deputy chief minister, Siddaramaiah was formerly with the Janata Dal-Secular before he crossed over to the Congress in 2006. The reason? JD-S supremo H D Deve Gowda did not consider his seniority and chose his son H D Kumaraswamy over him to be the Chief Minister.

Prior to the 2013 elections, he was the Leader of Opposition.

Born in 1948, Siddaramaiah started off as an advocate in Mysore. He belonged to the Kuruba community, which has the third largest vote share in Karnataka.

He was a law teacher for a few years before taking the jump into politics in 1978.

He first entered the Karnataka assembly in 1983.

He became a hit among the Kannadigas when he spearheaded the movement called Kannada Kavalu Samithi, which was set up to implement Kannada as the official language of the state.

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After the 1985 mid-term polls, Siddaramaiah became the animal husbandry minister under Ramakrishna Hegde. However, in the following elections in 1989 he tasted defeat.

He then made his presence felt after the 1994 elections when he became the finance minister in the JD-S government headed by Deve Gowda. People of Karnataka still say that he presented the best budgets.

Although his favourite, Gowda always kept Siddaramaiah distanced.

The belief was that he was too powerful a leader and commanded mass support and respect.

Despite being a senior, he was not considered for the post of chief minister, when Deve Gowda had to hand over power in Karnataka after being made the prime minister. The chief minister's post went to J H Patel while Siddaramaiah was made the deputy CM.

The 1999 election was a wash out of sorts for the JD-S. Even Siddaramaiah lost.

However he came back strong in the 2004 elections. The JD-S formed the government with the Congress headed by N Dharam Singh in which Siddaramaiah was the Deputy CM. However, two years later when the JD-S withdrew support from the Congress and allied with the BJP. Siddaramaiah quit as he realised this was a ploy to promote Kumaraswamy.

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What may work in Siddaramaiah's favour:

He has a relatively clean image.

He has ability to control bureaucrats

He has the ability take tough decisions.

What may NOT work in Siddaramaiah's favour:

His former ministry officials and bureaucrats find it difficult to deal with him owing to his arrogance. A sample of this was seen when he was being sworn in as Deputy CM when the JD-S had tied up with the Congress.

A bureaucrat who tried whispering in his ear was told point blank -- ri kiwi maatu beda, enidre munde bandu maat aadi (stop whispering in my ears, if you need to say something come in front and speak).

Siddaramaiah feels this is his last chance to be chief minister. He has already announced that 2013 will be last election and for the service he has rendered he should sign out on a high.




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