Staff Correspondent

Controversy over the issue of giving party ticket to Devaraj

‘It was given at the behest of Mallikarjun Kharge’

No interference from high command, says Niranjan

MYSORE: Differences among the Congress leaders over the issue of awarding party ticket have failed to die down even after the urban local body elections are over.

President of the District Congress Committee Dase Gowda is asserting that ticket for controversial candidate from Ward 57 Devaraj was given at the behest of president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Mallikarjun Kharge. However, Congress observer Niranjan says that Mr. Kharge was not involved in the issue. Congress leaders are also defending the party’s decision to issue ticket to 14 anti-social elements. According to Mr. Niranjan, such persons were given ticket to provide them an opportunity to reform.

Addressing presspersons here on Saturday, Mr. Niranjan refuted Mr. Gowda’s claim that ticket was given to Mr. Devaraj owing pressure from Mr. Kharge and another party worker, Ashok, was denied ticket because of this.

“There is no truth in the statement of the DCC president. It was Mr. Gowda who was keen on issuing ticket to Mr. Devaraj,” Mr. Niranjan said. He said that Mr. Gowda was one of the members of the selection committee and candidates were issued ticket based on various factors such as caste, track record and winning chances. Three high-level committees visited Mysore before finalising the list of candidates and elicited opinions from the party leaders in the district, he said and added that the process was transparent and there was no question of high command’s interference in the issue.

Taking serious objection to Mr. Gowda’s statement, Mr. Niranjan said that a report had been sent to the high command in this regard. “We have received many complaints against Mr. Gowda over the issue of awarding ticket and another report will be sent to the high command,” he said.

The issue of giving ticket to Mr. Devaraj has become controversial, as he had left the party after winning the previous election and joined Samajwadi Party. He returned to Congress recently.

On issuing ‘B’ forms to both Mr. Devaraj and Mr. Ashok, he said that the party leaders were conducting an inquiry in this regard as the responsibility of issuing the forms was given to Mr. Gowda.

Mr. Niranjan refuted the police claim that weapons were recovered from Mr. Devaraj on the election eve