After the Congress' emphatic 135-seat win in the May 10 Karnataka Assembly polls, the focus has now shifted to the all important question, "who will be the Chief Minister." And the race for the top post has heated up between old warhorses Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar, with both leaders making no secret of their ambition to lead the southern state.
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) has unanimously authorised All India Congress Committee (AICC) President M Mallikarjun Kharge to pick its leader, who will be the next chief minister of the state.
Here is a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the two aspiring CMs.
Siddaramaiah: STRENGTHS * Mass appeal across the state * Popular among a large section of Congress legislators * Experience of having run a full-term government as Chief Minister (2013-18).
* Able administrator with experience of having presented 13 budgets.
* Clout among the AHINDA (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and Dalits).
* Strong ability to take on BJP and JD(S), most importantly PM Modi and his government on issues.
* Considered close to Rahul Gandhi and apparently has his backing.
WEAKNESSES * Not so much organisationally connected with the party.
* Failure in bringing the Congress government back to power in 2018 under his leadership.
* Still considered an outsider by a section of Congress old guard. He was formerly with the JD(S).
*Age factor- Sidddaramiah is 75.
OPPORTUNITIES *Acceptability, appeal and experience to take along every one to run a government with a decisive mandate, and strengthen Congress for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
* IT, ED and CBI cases against opponent Shivakumar, who is also eyeing the CM post.
*Last election and last chance to become CM.
THREATS *Uniting of senior Congress old guards like Mallikarjun Kharge, G Parameshwara, who have missed becoming CM because of Siddaramaiah, also B K Hariprasad, K H Muniyappa among others against him.
*Call for a Dalit CM.
*Shivakumar's organisational strength, party's 'troubleshooter' tag, loyalty image across the country, and closeness to Gandhi family, especially Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Shivakumar: STRENGTHS * Strong organisational capabilities and having led the party to victory in elections.
* Known for party loyalty.
* Considered Congress' ace troubleshooter during difficult times.
* Resourceful leader.
* Has the backing of the dominant Vokkaliga community, its influential seers and leaders.
* Closeness to Gandhi family.
* Age factor on his side.
*Long political experience; has handled various portfolios.
WEAKNESSES * Cases against him before IT, ED and CBI.
* Jail term in Tihar * Lesser mass appeal and experience compared to Siddaramaiah.
* Clout by and large limited to the Old Mysuru region.
*Not having much backing from other communities.
OPPORTUNITIES *Congress' domination of the Old Mysuru region would go to Shivakumar, a Vokkaliga.
* KPCC President, as the natural choice to be the CM, like in the case of SM Krishna and Veerendra Patil.
*Chances of the party old guard backing him.
THREATS *Siddaramaiah's experience, seniority and mass appeal.
*Chances of large number of MLAs backing Siddaramaiah.
*Legal hurdles because of cases filed by central agencies.
*Call for a Dalit or Lingayat CM.
*Rahul Gandhi's apparent backing of Siddaramaiah.
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