Mangalore South Congress candidate is well-connected within Christian hierarchy

How did former bureaucrat J.R. Lobo scale up the ladder so fast in the Congress to be able to contest from the prestigious Mangalore City South constituency?

This is the question being debated after the Congress’ announcement caused heart-burn among many party workers, including Ivan D’Souza, who was a strong contender for the party ticket. Mr. D’Souza had lost the 2008 elections from the constituency by a margin of over 8,700 votes against BJP’s N. Yogish Bhat who has won four consecutive elections.

Congressmen attribute the rise of Mr. Lobo to NRI entrepreneur Ronald Colaco who they said is well connected in the Christian hierarchy. The entrepreneur was quoted last year in a couple of news websites saying he favoured the candidature of Mr. Lobo. Besides praising the contributions of Mr. Lobo as Commissioner of Mangalore City Corporation, he was reported to have condemned the ruckus at the Congress office on the day Mr. Lobo joined the party in July last allegedly by the supporters of Mr. D’Souza.

Some Congressmen suggest that Mr. Lobo is also close to some top Congress leaders from the region such as AICC General Secretary Oscar Fernandes and Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily.

Congress leader and former spokesperson Kallige Tarananth Shetty could not hide his displeasure when he said partymen who had been commitment to the party for long had been ignored, Mr. Shetty, however, hastened to add that he would work to ensure the success of the party candidate.

Mr. Lobo said he had maintained good relations with Mr. Colaco but insisted this had nothing to do with him being chosen as the candidate. He attributed his quick rise to the party’s philosophy of giving representation to all sections and looking at the abilities of individuals and not only one’s political background.

Mr. Colaco did not answer the phone calls and a short message sent to his mobile phone went unanswered.

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