Bengaluru: The Congress seems to be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting a chief minister should it win the May 10 Karnataka Assembly election.
While KPCC president DK Shivakumar and Opposition leader Siddaramaiah are the front runners, a new front has opened up with the Lingayats seeing an opportunity of having a member of their community as the next CM should the Congress win.
We are confident that Lingayats will win about 40 seats: BS Sachidananda Murthy
“We are confident that Lingayats will win about 40 seats, so it is natural that we expect the CM to be from our community,” BS Sachidananda Murthy, vice-president, Veerashaiva-Lingayat Mahasabha, was quoted in the media.
The last time a Lingayat Congressman occupied the top post was in 1989, when Veerendra Patil led the party to a huge victory with 174 seats.
The Lingayat factor may come into play should senior Lingayat leaders like Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi swing a win in favour of the Congress.
Sources say a section of functionaries is concerned the induction of Shettar and Savadi may intensify the race for the chief minister’s post — based on caste groups — if the party wins.
To win the Lingayats over, the Congress has handed out 47 tickets to candidates from the community. Lingayats would surely stake a claim for the post if its sizeable number of candidates were elected.
Sources say the objective now is to reclaim the Veerendra Patil glory. Lingayat candidates are hoping to bag a good number of seats, especially in Kittur, Karnataka, thanks to Shettar and Savadi. The community leaders have already started gearing up to stake claim to the CM seat with renewed vigour.
The Congress had 32 Lingayat MLAs when it formed the government in 2013, compared to 18 Vokkaliga legislators. The tally fell to 17 Lingayat and 16 Vokkaliga MLAs in 2018 when it bagged only 80 seats. The governing BJP has 37 Lingayat MLAs.
It shows Congress can gain only if it consolidates Lingayat votes and wins a good chunk of seats represented by legislators from the community.
The aspirations of Lingayat community MLAs are likely to heighten the tussle over the CM post. If not the CM, the community would dictate terms when it comes to allocation of portfolios and would like to bag important ministries.
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