Consensus eludes Congress on new KPCC president


Siddaramaiah is expected to hold another round of talks on Wednesday, this time with former Congress national president Rahul Gandhi

The Congress high command was unable to arrive at a consensus on the appointment of a new Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president on Tuesday, as former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah reportedly favoured former Minister and Lingayat leader M.B. Patil while the party’s Central leaders backed former Minister and Vokkaliga leader D.K. Shivakumar.

Mr. Siddaramaiah held discussions with the party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi. During the meeting, which lasted between 30 and 40 minutes, Ms. Gandhi is believed to have turned down Mr. Siddaramaiah’s nominee for the post. However, she told Mr. Siddaramaiah to continue in his post of Leader of the Opposition (LoP), sources said.

On December 9 last year, Dinesh Gundu Rao and Mr. Siddaramaiah resigned from their posts of KPCC president and LoP, respectively, following the party’s drubbing in the byelections to 15 Assembly seats in the State.

According to sources, Mr. Siddaramaiah is expected to hold another round of talks on Wednesday, this time with former Congress national president Rahul Gandhi. But the party is unlikely to announce the new KPCC president in the next few days as Ms. Gandhi is expected to go abroad this weekend.

Consensus eludes Congress on new KPCC president

Lingayat support

During the meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Siddaramaiah tried to convince Ms. Gandhi about Mr. Patil’s suitability for the post as he belongs to the dominant Lingayat community and hails from North Karnataka. Sources said Mr. Siddaramaiah’s argument was the importance of winning back the support of the community, which has not backed the party in multiple elections since 2018.

However, it is believed that a section of Lingayat leaders from North Karnataka has been opposing Mr. Patil’s appointment, as he had made a bid to grant religious minority status to the community.

The candidature of Mr. Shivakumar has been strongly supported by a group of central leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Kapil Sibal, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. They view Mr. Shivakumar, a party loyalist and trouble-shooter, as the most suitable candidate at present, despite the pending Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate cases against him.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Siddaramaiah held discussions with Mr. Patel, who is also the All-India Congress Committee treasurer, former Union Minister A.K. Antony (both CWC members), and K.C. Venugopal, AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka. Before meeting Ms. Gandhi, the former Chief Minister held a strategy meeting with his loyalists Mr. Patil, Zameer Ahmed Khan, Ivan D’Souza, Byrathi Suresh and Raghavendra Hitnal at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi.

According to party sources, another group of Congress leaders, comprising former Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara and former Minister H.K. Patil, will meet Ms. Gandhi and hold discussions on the matter.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 9:51:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/consensus-eludes-congress-on-new-kpcc-president/article30568810.ece

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