A day after the Congress walked away with a thumping majority in Karnataka, the race for the Chief Minister’s post gained momentum on Friday.

Although each one of the many contenders said they would abide by the party high command’s decision, each did not mince words to announce that they were “front-runners to the post.”

While Siddaramaiah, who served as Leader of Opposition, and Union Labour Minister M Mallikarjuna Kharge continue to be the main contenders, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara, who lost the election, has also announced that his candidature for the top post should not be dismissed.

The former KPCC president RV. Deshpande and the former KPCC working president D.K. Shivakumar also expressed their desire to make it to the post.

On Thursday, each one of these candidates held separate press conferences to announce that they are contenders. Although Mr. Kharge denied media reports that said he was a contender, he said: “I am ready to take up the responsibility if the high command wishes so.”

Mr. Siddaramaiah, who said a final call would be taken at the CLP meeting, said the central team would elicit the opinion of legislators on the Chief Ministerial candidates.

Mr. Deshpande claimed to be a “go-getter” and reeled out his seniority in the party and his contributions.

“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’s decision,” Mr. Deshpande said.

Mr. Shivakumar, who also said he would abide by the high command’s decision, said he was in touch with the new legislators seeking their support for his candidature. “I am sure the high command will go by the individual opinion of MLAs about the candidate,” he said.

Meanwhile, sources said that senior Lingayat leader Shyamanur Shivashankarappa and T B Jayachandra, who served as Deputy Floor Leader of Congress in the outgoing Assembly, are also claiming stake to the post. Union Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily’s name is also making the rounds.

In the meanwhile, Union Minister K.H. Muniyappa also announced his own candidature for the post of the Chief Minister citing his long association with the Congress and the fact that he belonged to a Dalit community.

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