Bengaluru: If the trends thrown up by the ABP/C-Voter Exit Poll for Karnataka hold, former Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah could be back as the CM of the southern state.
Voters in Karnataka seem to have identified him as their first choice for the top job. The exit poll data suggest that 40.1 per cent of the electorate in Karnataka want Siddaramaiah as the next Chief Minister.
The Congress leader is followed by current Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who is the preferred choice for 34.1 per cent of the voters. JD(S) leader and another former Chief Minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy, comes a distant third with 18.1 per cent of the electorate backing him as their first choice.
Karnataka Congress President D.K. Shivakumar had openly declared his ambition of becoming the Chief Minister prior to the polls, and he is considered by political analysts to be a strong contender.
Yet, the exit poll suggests that voters in Karnataka do not share this view, with just 4.2 per cent of the electorate singling Shivakumar out as their preferred choice for the CM’s post.
Siddaramaiah was a strong leader in the JD(S) and was considered a close aide of the party patriarch and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. But upset over the decision of Deve Gowda to anoint his son Kumaraswamy as his successor, Siddaramaiah quit the party and joined the Congress in 2005.
A handsome victory for the Congress in the 2013 Assembly elections saw him get elevated as the Chief Minister. In 2018, Siddaramaiah contested from two seats and lost one of them. His support base appears incredibly strong among the Dalit and Muslim communities.
While 54 per cent Dalit voters in Karnataka want him as the next CM, close to 69 per cent of the Muslim voters share the same viewpoint.
Siddaramaiah leads current Chief Minister Bommai in most regions in Karnataka, except Coastal Karnataka and Greater Bangalore where Bommai holds the edge.