Muslims and Christians in Karnataka are disappointed with inadequate representation of minority communities in the Congress list of candidates here. These communities, which constitute about 15 per cent of the State’s population of 6.25 crore, are considered to be a strong vote bank of the Congress.
In every previous election, Christians were given ticket to contest at least from one constituency, and Muslims from at least two of the 28 Lok Sabha segments. However, this time, the party has fielded just one Muslim — Rizwan Arshad — in the list of 26 candidates announced so far. Not a single Christian candidate figures in the list.
Party sources said it was not likely that another minority candidate would be accommodated in the remaining two constituencies of Haveri and Dharwad, where the party is yet to announce its candidates.
This has already created resentment in the party. While veteran leader C.K. Jaffer Sharief has already announced his intention of moving out, it is stated that another Congressman, C.M. Ibrahim, is also on his way out of the party.
Expressing displeasure over the party not having considered any Christian candidate, H.T. Sangliana has announced that he will join the Janata Dal (Secular).
Defending the selection of candidates, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G. Parameshwara told The Hindu that although the party wanted to field Nivedith Alva, son of Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva, Prashanth Deshpande’s name was finalised at the last moment, because “winning is the criteria”.
Mr. Prashanth is the son of Minister for Higher Education R.V. Deshpande. Dr. Parameshwara said the Congress had always stood by the Christian community, especially during the spate of church attacks in 2011. “We will convince the community and accommodate their representatives as MLCs in future. Oscar Fernandes had been made a Rajya Sabha member and a Minister in the Union Cabinet. Ms. Alva has been appointed as Rajasthan Governor. So, the community has not been sidelined in anyway,” he said. Mr. Fernandes, who won in the 1980 Lok Sabha elections, managed to retain that seat for the next four consecutive terms. In 1998, although the party fielded both Mr. Fernandes and Ms. Margaret Alva, they lost.
Subsequently, Ms. Maragaret Alva won in 1999, but lost in 2004. In 2009, the Congress had fielded two Muslims — Mr. Sharief and Saleem Ahmed, and two Christians, Ms. Margaret Alva and H.T. Sangliana. While Mr. Sharief lost to D.B. Chandre Gowda of the BJP in Bangalore North and Ms. Alva lost to Ananthkumar Hegde of the BJP in Uttara Kannada, Mr. Sangliana was defeated by P.C. Mohan of the BJP in Bangalore Central, while Saleem Ahmed lost to Shivakumar Udasi of the BJP in Haveri.
Resentment brews as minority communities miss out on ticket