With the counting of votes to begin on Wednesday morning and results expected by afternoon, the Congress camp is abuzz with who will be the next Chief Minister as all exit polls predict a victory to the party.

According to a former Minister, who has contested from Gulbarga district, though the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara should be the “natural choice” that could change. The argument is that if the party high command wants to install the first Dalit Chief Minister, it could turn to Union Minister for Labour and Employment M. Mallikarjun Kharge, taking into account his victory in 10 elections, including the Lok Sabha. Mr. Kharge had held important positions in several ministries, starting from D. Devaraj Urs to the N. Dharam Singh government, and had served as Leader of the Opposition and KPCC president. Mr. Kharge had said he was ready to take on the mantle, if the high command so desires, and he would not ask for it on his own.

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Others, however argue that the “natural choice” ought to be Siddaramaiah, who has been the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly for five years by virtue of being the Congress Legislature Party leader. Mr. Siddaramaiah has been elected to the Assembly six times, including a byelection, and had served as Deputy Chief Minister in the J.H. Patel and N. Dharam Singh ministries. He presented the State budget seven times.

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