Differences within the district unit of the Congress came out in the open following the announcement of members of election committee, campaign committee, and manifesto committee for the urban local body elections in the district. This happened when senior Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary and District Congress Committee president B. Ramanath Rai were addressing a press meet at the party office on Wednesday.
Just as Mr. Poojary finished reading out names of the committee members, the former Mayor and Mangalore City Corporation Councillor K. Ashraf expressed his unhappiness over exclusion of Block Congress Presidents such as him from the election committee. “Block Unit Presidents cannot be ignored. This list has names of your own people like Vijayakumar Shetty. Am I being ignored as I am a Muslim,” he said pointing towards Mr. Poojary, who is the district in-charge of the party for the elections in the district.
MLA U.T. Khader, who was present, came towards Mr. Ashraf to pacify him. “People need to know this. These decisions cannot be taken in closed door (meetings),” Mr. Ashraf said as he was led out.
As Mr. Poojary left the venue, a disturbed Mr. Rai held a meeting with a group of party men. Another group of party men had meeting with Mr. Khader. Mr. Ashraf came down from the party office and told reporters that he would take up the issue with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Supporters of Mr. Ashraf had a heated exchange of words with District Congress Minority Unit president Mohiuddin Bawa.
A few hours later, a separate press conference was called by district unit vice-president Ibrahim Kodikal and Mr. Khader to express regret over the morning events. Mr. Ashraf said misunderstanding had been cleared.
“We have been able to put a band it (sic) on the wound. Do not try to open it,” said Mr. Khader.