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Home > India > News > Report

Congress' Karnataka CM candidate: Kharge or Krishna?

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | April 07, 2008 14:19 IST

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Coverage: Political Crisis in Karnataka

The role of S M Krishna in Karnataka politics has been debated ever since he returned after resigning as the Governor of Maharashtra. While rumours were afloat that he will be made the chief minister if the Congress comes back to power in the state, the party always maintained that Krishna would only be part of the campaign and nothing else.

The first task before the Congress is the distribution of tickets. Till Sunday, the party had received 2,700 applications from across the state and the scrutiny of the same is underway. The big question now is whether S M Krishna will contest the elections at all.

His supporters, who did not want to be named, said that Krishna is the best bet to be chief minister. They have also urged him to contest both from Hebbal and Maddur. His supporters do not want him to take any chances and want him to win the polls at any cost.

Krishna's supporters feel he should contest from Maddur in order to restore lost pride. The last time, they say, he did not contest from Maddur as he feared a backlash from the voters after a broken promise on the Cauvery waters issue.

Krishna then contested from Chamrajpet and won the polls. Howeverm he resigned as MLA and went on to become Governor. In the by-poll to the Chamrajpet constituency in Bangalore, the Janata Dal-Secular won the elections.

The Krishna camp feels that if he fails to make an impact in Maddur, he could be assured of a win at the Hebbal constituency as it comprises intellectual voters who are likely to swing his way.

His supporters say that there is also a possibility of him not contesting at all. In case the party does well and he is called upon to become the CM, then he may get elected as an MLC.

Krishna, however, is non-committal about his role in the government in case his party comes to power. Immediately after his return, he had said he was back to build the party and his future role would depend on the party high command.

The Siddaramaiah camp too is making similar demands. He has indicated that he would like to contest the elections from both the Chamundeshwari and Varuna constituencies.

The Siddaramaiah group feels that Chamundeshwari would be tough this time since during the last by-polls, he just managed to scrape his way through. Hence, it would be better to have a second option.

However, the Congress high command is unlikely to approve these demands as it feels that granting two constituencies to a leader would give the impression that it is fielding them as CM candidates. As of now, the party does not wish to antagonise the Mallikarjuna Kharge camp as any tiff within this camp could well seal the fate of the party to a large extent in north Karnataka.

Sources in the Congress say that the strategy is all worked out. Kharge and Krishna will be in the fray and the final candidature would be decided on the results of the elections. Although a bit far-fetched at this very moment, Congress insiders feel that they will win at least 115 seats.

Congressmen told that if the party is able to form the government on its own, there is every possibility of Krishna being made CM. However, if the Congress has to enter into a pact with the JD-S, then they would have no choice but to make Kharge the CM.