M.B. Patil to write to Rahul over Council chief’s election

Poor representation to NK, he says; but issue is more political than regional: Sources

Trouble appears to be brewing within the Congress over its choice of K. Prathapchandra Shetty for the post of Legislative Council Chairman, with one of its former Ministers and a strong aspirant for Cabinet berth M.B. Patil planning to write to Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the issue.

While Mr. Patil, who is seen to be close to former Chief Minister and Chairman of Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition’s coordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah, cited “injustice” to north Karnataka over the selection of Council chairman by the Congress, sources said that Mr. Patil’s move is “more political than regional.” It comes in the light of the high command not considering Mr. Siddaramaiah’s choice of candidate, and power play among groups within Congress.

“Our demand is that the party should rectify the imbalance and differences between south and north Karnataka,” Mr. Patil told reporters here on Thursday. He pointed out that posts of Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Speaker, Congress Legislative Party leader, chairman of the coordination committee, and KPCC president have all gone to south Karnataka. “The party has 36 MLAs from south Karnataka and nine have been accommodated in the Cabinet. On the other hand, of the 41 MLAs from north Karnataka, only 5 Ministers have been accommodated. I will write to Mr. Gandhi highlighting these issues,” he said. His comments come in the backdrop of outbursts by two senior MLCs S.R. Patil (Congress) and Basavaraj Horatti (JD-S) — both strong aspirants for the post and representing north Karnataka — raising the same issue on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Siddaramaiah camp appeared divided on what these developments imply. One legislator associated with Mr. Siddaramaiah’s camp said that his presence was “badly missed” on Tuesday when Mr. Shetty was asked to file nominations, taking most legislators by surprise.

However, another source close to Mr. Siddaramaiah claimed that the Council chairperson’s election was no setback. “In fact, his opinion was sought before deciding on Mr. Shetty’s name. Also, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, he cannot be ignored. Earlier also, he had his way in the selection of candidates for three MLCs,” said one legislator.

In contrast, acknowledging the trouble, a Congress Minister from north Karnataka said: “It is unfortunate that the issue had to pan out now and from here (Belagavi).” Trouble from within may not be immediate, but in the light of Congress’s performance in the North, it may handle the situation differently, he said.

Another senior Congress functionary, also from north Karnataka, said: “He (Mr. Siddaramaiah) is upset. We have not spoken to him yet on the issue.”

On any attempts to mollify him, the leader said: “He is a very senior leader and issues can be addressed by the high command and not by leaders here. No doubt, there are issues within the party.”

CLP meeting

Sources also said that the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting here on December 18 could be stormy in the light of development between insiders and outsiders.

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Printable version | Mar 22, 2020 7:54:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mb-patil-to-write-to-rahul-over-council-chiefs-election/article25736004.ece

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