AICC General Secretary, Venugopal and his team of four secretaries, which is currently in Bengaluru, is now tasked with ensuring that the party gives equitable representation to dominant community leaders in Karnataka, through this post.

While names of six leaders are doing the rounds, only two leaders have emerged as the top contenders for the post, which has been held by Home Minister G Parameshwara for the last six years. There is severe criticism among the leaders that Parameshwara has been entrusted with dual responsibilities, and that he has failed to discharge his duties effectively.

Top contenders for KPCC president post

D K Shivakumar (Vokkaliga)
S R Patil (Lingayat)
M B Patil (Lingayat)
G Parameshwara (incumbent) (Dalit)
Mallikarjun Kharge (Dalit)
K H Muniyappa (Dalit)

Though Parameshwara too is one of the hopefuls for the post, party insiders said that the high command might not really consider appointing him for the second term.

In the last couple of days, the name of veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge too is doing the rounds. Kharge is currently the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. According to sources, the leadership feels that the Dalit leader has already been given his due - he has earlier also served as the KPCC president. As he is already projected as the national leader, it is unlikely that he will be considered for the KPCC chief post, sources added.

Another Dalit leader K H Muniyappa, and Lingayat leader M B Patil too are hopefuls, but they aren’t really in the race owing to several factors.

This leaves Vokkaliga leader D K Shivakumar and Lingayat leader S R Patil in the race. With both leaders representing dominant communities, it is left to the Venugopal team to crack the caste riddle and other influencing factors, to zero in on one name.

D K Shivakumar:

Aged 54, Shivakumar belongs to the dominant Vokkaliga community. An MLA from Kanakpura, he currently holds the Energy portfolio. He is a top contender for the post, and is very much in the race.

Pluses: Enjoys the support among the rank and file of the party; strong Vokkaliga leader; has the reputation that he cannot be fooled easily; a good strategist and an organiser; has a one on one rapport with several workers; a relevant leader in the party.

Minuses: Does not enjoy the support of CM Siddaramaiah, who considers him a threat to his career prospects; there is a sentiment that if he is made the KPCC chief, it will create two power centers - between himself and Siddaramaiah; has the reputation of being brash/rude; is trying to project himself as the next CM candidate; the party might lose out JD(S)’s support (if need be post elections), given his animosity with the JD(S) leaders H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy

S R Patil:

Aged 69, Patil belongs to the Lingayat Community. An MLC from Bagalkot, he has served as the Minister for IT/BT and Science and Technology in the Siddaramaiah government. He was dropped from the cabinet during the cabinet reshuffle. He too is a top contender and is in the race.

Strength: Non controversial leader; is backed by CM Siddaramaiah; belongs to the Reddy-Lingayat community; enjoys the support of the dominant Lingayat community in North Karnataka; is known to handle the party affairs in North Karnataka.

Weakness: Doesn't know many workers, especially in South Karnataka; lacks the ability to counter the JD(S), which has a strong presence in the Cauvery basin; not a good strategist; is not very resourceful; will be a dummy KPCC chief, with Siddaramaiah getting to call the shots in the long run.

M B Patil:

Aged 52, Patil belongs to the Lingayat community. An MLA from Babaleshwar in Vijayapura, he currently holds the Water Resources portfolio. Though a contender, is not really in the race.

A strong Lingayat leader, he is known to be a good strategist and also a resourceful leader; he has a strong presence in North Karnataka. Also enjoys the support of CM Siddaramaiah. He Is said to be too involved in his ministry, medical college, businesses - thereby might not be able to give time for the party affairs.

K H Muniyappa:

Aged 69, Muniyappa belongs to the Dalit community (scheduled caste). He is an MP from Kolar. Has served as a union minister thrice. Though a contender, he is not really in the race. Though a seasoned politician, he does not enjoy the support neither among the cadre nor the leaders, including G Parameshwara and Mallikarjun Kharge.