The Karnataka unit of the Congress, on a day when the filing of nominations for the all-important elections to the Legislative Assembly is scheduled to commence, is facing serious problems, with senior leaders locking horns over the selection of candidates for the polls.
The two top leaders of the party — KPCC president G. Parameshwara and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah — are in New Delhi to finalise the list of candidates for the remaining 47 constituencies. Of a total of 224 constituencies for which polling will be held on May 5, the Congress has announced the list of candidates for 177 constituencies.
Ironically, even while the party leadership is finalising the second list, the list of candidates in the first list is itself not really final. This means that the selected candidates cannot commence campaigning. Informed sources in the Congress told The Hindu that there is stiff opposition to candidates announced for at least 25 seats and there has been no attempt to either mollify the rebels or even change some of the candidates, and the party high command is itself contemplating on effecting some changes.
Complaints have also surfaced over what has been described as “sale of tickets”. It is said that some wealthy businessmen, who also double up as Congress members, have been successful in obtaining party ticket much to the chagrin of those who have nourished the same constituency over the past few years. Complaints in this connection have been forwarded to the party high command, including AICC president Sonia Gandhi.
For instance, complaints have surfaced over the selection of the former Minister D.B. Inamdar for the Kittur Assembly Constituency. Anand Appugol had been seeking the ticket to contest from Kittur given the fact that Mr. Inamdar had lost in the two successive Legislative Assembly elections held in 2004 and 2008. Same has been the case in the finalisation of Krishnamurthy for the Rajarajeshwari Assembly Constituency and Byrathi Basavaraju for the K.R. Puram Assembly Constituency as the candidates (the official announcement is yet to be made in both cases). The former Minister A. Krishnappa has been seeking ticket for the K.R. Puram seat.
There is also no mention on whether the kith and kin of senior leaders such as M. Mallikarjun Kharge, K. Rahman Khan, K.H. Muniyappa and N. Dharam Singh among others will be given the party ticket. When Mr. Kharge quit the Legislative Assembly seat (Chitapur) after winning the Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat in 2009, his son Priyank Kharge was given the ticket to contest the bypoll for the Chitapur seat. He lost the election by a narrow margin of about 1,600 votes and definitely merits a ticket in the present elections irrespective of him being the son of Mr. Kharge.
Sources in the Congress said unless emergent steps are taken to quell the rebellion, protests and demonstrations could even lead to the defeat of some of the candidates — a Congress rebel working to defeat an official candidate. As of now, while the AICC has remained a spectator to the growing discontent in the party in Karnataka, the State-level leaders are preoccupied in the finalisation of candidates resulting in there being no attempt to even talk to those angry with the ticket issue. The Congress is thus in the dock for all the wrong reasons.