‘Shankuntala or Lobo may make the cut as district in-charge’

Seniority may not be a yardstick for the Congress in selecting ministers this time, and in turn appointing a minister in-charge of Dakshina Kannada, said party officials in the know.

They told The Hindu that after overlooking seniority for winning candidates in the Assembly election, the Congress would prefer a district in-charge minister who would boost the image of the party further by providing able administration.

Lok Sabha in sight

The decision to be “more pragmatic” was to ensure that the BJP and its “affiliates” did not resurrected in the district easily as the Congress had come to the power in the State on its own after a gap of nine years. In addition, as the party would have to face the Lok Sabha election next year, it wants to wrest the Mangalore Lok Sabha seat (erstwhile Dakshina Kannada constituency) being held by the BJP for the past 22 years. The BJP had won the Lok Sabha constituency consecutively in 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009 elections.

The Congress sources said that the party was looking for a district in-charge minister who would be able to impress the people by his or her style of functioning and take tough stand against the “affiliates” of the BJP in case of recurrence of moral policing and other activities which would disturb peace in society.

They said that the party wants to nullify the strength of the BJP and its “affiliates” particularly in Puttur, Mangalore City South, Bantwal and in Sullia, where the Congress lost to the BJP by a narrow margin of 1,373 votes.

They said that the Congress had decided to strike at the “development-based politics” as claimed by the BJP by showing that it was also not lagging behind in it.

They said that though the district has B. Ramanath Rai, a six-term MLA from Bantwal, K. Vasanth Bangera, a five-term MLA from Belthangady, K. Abhayachandra, a four-term MLA from Moodbidri and U. T. Khader, a three-term MLA from Mangalore, it could not be concluded that one among them would be inducted into the Cabinet as they enjoyed seniority.

One need not be surprised if the Congress inducted newcomers T. Shankuntala Shetty, two-term MLA, Puttur or J.R. Lobo, the former MCC Commissioner who won from Mangalore City South, into the Cabinet.

Sources said that while selecting the candidates for Mangalore City South, Mangalore City North and Puttur Assembly constituencies, the Congress did not considered the seniority of party workers but focused on the candidates, including migrants from BJP, who could bring victory and it worked.

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