KARNATAKA

‘Not an aspirant for Chief Minister’s post’

T.S. Ranganna

Bangalore: Senior Congress leader S.M. Krishna on Thursday said that he was not an aspirant for the Chief Minister’s post, if his party came to power again.

This statement on the eve of the elections has cleared the way for other aspirants such as the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramiah. It may be recalled that Mr. Siddaramiah, who joined the Congress two years ago, made it clear that there was nothing wrong in aspiring for the post.

However, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president M. Mallikarjun Kharge maintained in an interview with this newspaper that in the Congress it was the party president and the high command that will decide the leadership issue.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a meeting organised by the party, Mr. Krishna said he had no plans to become Chief Minister again.

Mr. Krishna, who explained the reasons for taking such a decision, said that AICC president Sonia Gandhi had mandated him to bring all leaders in the State unit together and work for the success of its candidates.

The Congress leader said thepeoplewere upset by the 20-month misrule of the Janata Dal (Secular ) and BJP and were sure to vote for the Congress.

Of the 89 constituencies going to the polls in the first phase, he said the Congress would get around 45 to 60 seats.

On extending support to Samajwadi Party candidate S. Bangarappa in Shikaripur of Shimoga district by not fielding a Congress candidate, Mr. Krishna said his party took a conscious decision to do so. It wanted to defeat the BJP, whose chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa is caught in a straight contest with the Samajavadi Party leader.

The Congress, he said, did not want a split in the secular votes.

However, he said, there was no question of the Samajwadi Party merging with the Congress.

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