The Congress has always created a suspense when it came to announcing their Chief Ministerial candidate. In Karnataka the case is no different and with S M Krishna forced into retirement, the Congress will have to look for a person who could be the Chief Minister in case the party manages to win the Karnataka polls.
Despite the confusion regarding the leader, many in the Congress maintain that it could either be Mallikarjuna Kharge or Siddaramaiah as the leader. These persons would be the first choice for the Congress. Siddaramaiah despite being a crowd puller is still considered to be a new entrant into the Congress. He had come out the Janata Dal (S) and joined the Congress around 6 years back. There has been an opposition to him being the Chief Minister from the older leaders of the Congress including G Parameshwar, who is the party president in Karnataka.
If things do not work out for Siddaramaiah the Congress would automatically chose Kharge to lead. He is a more acceptable face in the Congress and has been a CM in waiting since the past ten years. He lost out to S M Krishna and later to Dharam Singh. However with Krishna and Singh out of the picture he stands a good chance. The only way in which he could be beaten is if Siddaramaiah manages to put up an excellent show and draws a huge vote base. Kharge on the other hand is a known face in Northern Karnataka and it is unlikely that he will campaign a lot in Karnataka due to his engagements in the centre. Siddaramaiah on the other hand his own follower base in the Congress and is also well aware that he is a more acceptable face in the public. He can sway the Kuruba community votes with much ease and this would increase the prospects of the Congress a great deal in the Mysore belt at least. He could play spoil sport in case he decides to rebel in the Congress and the party would not want a repeat of what happened in the BJP Karnataka.
In case both these candidates do not work out then the Congress would either go with Parameshwar or K H Muniyappa. Both these are low profile candidates, but their candidature would not hurt any one too much in the Congress. The last choice however would be Oscar Fernandes known for his proximity to Gandhi family.
The Congress has intentionally abstained from announcing any candidate for now. They are riding high on their success in the local body polls and would not want any sort of bad blood between their leaders. They are looking for a united campaign in Karnataka and would announce the leader only once the polls are complete.
Moreover the Congress strategy appears to be clear and it does not want to favour or hurt any community by announcing a leader. It has formed the campaign committee under Veeranna Mathikatti and D.K. Shiva Kumar while the strategy committee would be headed by C M Ibrahim. The central committee on the other hand is headed by A K Antony and has Parameshwar and Siddaramaiah too in it. In this way the Congress has included a Lingayat ( Mathkatti), a Vokkaliga (Shivkumar), Muslim (Ibrahim), a Dalit (Parameshwar) and OBC (Siddaramaiah).