A day after the Congress registered a massive victory in Karnataka — winning 136 of the 224 seats — its newly elected legislators met at a private hotel in Bengaluru.

The Congress Legislature Party unanimously resolved that AICC President would be authorised to appoint its new leader. 

However, they were unable to arrive at a decision on who should be the next Chief Minister. Most legislators said they would abide by the decision of the party ‘high command’ — a euphemism for Gandhis — Sonia and Rahul.

Earlier, Congress President Mallikarjuna Kharge had appointed Sushil Kumar Shinde, Jitendra Singh and Deepak Babaria as observers for the legislature party meet. They were tasked with meeting the legislators individually to elicit their choice on who should be the next CM.

The contenders

There are several contenders for the post including two key ones — former CM Siddaramaiah and KPCC President DK Shivakumar. The latter, aged 60, is a Vokkaliga leader who has been elected for the eighth consecutive time.

Unlike 75-year-old Siddaramaiah who started his politics in Janata Parivar on an anti-Congress platform, Shivakumar is famously known for his ‘troubleshooting’ abilities, and has stayed loyal to Congress; but is embroiled in corruption-related cases.

However, Siddaramaiah who joined the party in 2006 is a powerful AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, OBCs and dalits) leader who enjoys mass popularity. He ran a full five-year term Congress government as CM between 2013 and 2018 and is seen as the frontrunner between the two.

Besides, the names of MB Patil, a former home minister and a Lingayat, as well as Dalit leaders G Parameshwara and Priyank Kharge have been aired as possible contenders. Several proposals, including serving as CM by rotation for 30 months each between Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah are being floated.

Apart from that, there is a proposal to have four deputy CMs — one each from the Lingayat, Vokkaliga, OBC/Dalit and Muslim communities — depending on which community gets the chief ministership. The party high command is likely to take a final call after the observers submit their report.