Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee’s declared intent of allowing “winnable and capable” MLAs from other parties into its fold, some of whom might get ticket in the coming Assembly elections, has led to serious heartburn among loyal Congressmen and women.
Many old-timers in the party are particularly resentful of those who deserted the party and joined the BJP in Operation Kamala. They feel that the party should give ticket to loyalists rather than “opportunists”.
There are rumours galore on who among the list of 20 seeking to enter the party fold — pending before the Congress high command — would be welcomed and who would have to return disappointed. There are reports that the high command had rejected the applications of Fisheries Minister Anand Asnotikar and Housing Minister V. Somanna.
The decision of the State unit to recommend the name of the former Social Welfare Minister D. Sudhakar, representing Hiruyur in Chitradurga district, to be allowed into the partyfold has former Chitradurga MP P. Kodandaramaiah livid. He has complained to Congress president Sonia Gandhi that Mr. Sudhakar had been charge sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation and should not be admitted to the party.
The former Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council V.S. Ugrappa, on the other hand, is opposed to the admission of former minister and MLA Venkataramanappa.
Mr. Kodandaramaiah is one of several leaders, including eight MLAs, who joined the party along with the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, after quitting the Janata Dal (Secular). The efforts of Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Gopalakrishna Belur, representing Sagar, to join the Congress is also leading to some resentment. Though he has not openly expressed it, it is believed that Mr. Belur’s maternal uncle and a senior Congress leader Kagodu Thimmappa had opposed his admission. But, sources in the party said that it might accommodate him in the neighbouring Sirsi, now represented by the Primary and Secondary Education Minister Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri.
The Congress is also facing problem in allowing .S. Putte Gowda, who had resigned from the Janata Dal (Secular) MLA seat, into the fold. The constituency represented by him, Shravanabelagola, is the same one that H.S. Vijayakuamar, son of the former Congress stalwart H.C. Srikantaiah, is hoping to contest from.
It is an open secret that the former KPCC president R.V. Deshpande had opposed the entry of Mr. Asnotikar, while Vijayanagar MLA M. Krishnappa and his son Priya Krishna, representing Govindarajanagar in the city, had reportedly told the high command that they could not allow Mr. Somanna, a habitual party-hopper, into the party. In fact, Mr. Krishna defeated Mr. Somanna, a Minister in the B.S. Yeddyurappa cabinet.
There are also some strange reversals in this drama of party hopping. For example, KPCC former working president D.K. Shivakumar, who has been at loggerheads with the Forest Minister C.P. Yogeeshwar, representing Channapatna, is now silent on the issue of the former joining the Congress.