- Chief Minister Siddaramaiah could be replaced, indicates Congress
- Am in the running too, confirms state chief of Congress to NDTV
- Exit polls disagree on whether BJP or Congress will win most seats
"There are at least half a dozen chief ministerial candidates in our party," said G Parameshwara, a senior Congress leader from Karnataka, cheerfully confirming his own spot in the league of would-be's. "Of course, since the last election, I have been portrayed as an alternative or one of the chief ministerial candidates... let me also take a chance," the politician, who heads the Congress in the southern state, said.
Karnataka voted on Saturday for 222 of 224 seats. Results are bring counted today. Mr Siddaramaiah, 69, was, atypically for the Congress, given a free hand in shaping both the campaign for re-election and in deciding candidates.
Exit polls have been mystifying, throwing up sharply contrasting results for whether it will be the BJP or Congress who will score the maximum seats. One television channel ran two different exit polls that contradicted each other on the winner.
Most polls show the JDS getting about 30 seats - which would make it the decision-maker if no party gets a clear majority.
However, the senior leader said, the JDS must be "reasonable" in what it demands -- for example, he said, it can at best seek the post of deputy chief minister. Mr Gowda's son, HD Kumaraswamy, has served in the past as head of Karnataka and depending on how many seats the party gets, the JDS could ask for him to be installed as chief minister of an alliance.
The operating space granted to Mr Siddaramaiah by the Congress's infamous "high command" -- its Delhi leadership led by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi -- may have enabled a smart and hard-hitting campaign that emphasised regional identity and culture as well as the alleged impugning of federalism by the Modi government, but it is this same autonomy that earned him many enemies within his own party.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who campaigned heavily in Karnataka for the BJP, has predicted the Congress will be reduced to "PPP" after tomorrow -- "Puducherry, Punjab, Parivaar" -- meaning that it would have as its declared assets only the two states that it still governs along with its first family.
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