Cong candidate selection leaves Vokkaligas, Lingayats red
Community leaders mount pressure on high command
Delaying the release of candidates’ list for the Assembly elections might be a strategy to thwart rebellion. But, for the Congress, sitting on the list is proving to be a big headache.
Various caste and community groups have started to mount pressure on the party leaders, demanding adequate representation. Prominently, leaders belonging to the two dominant communities of Lingayat and Vokkaliga have been lobbying hard in Delhi for the ticket. These two communities have always been alleging that the Congress is not giving primacy to them.
Lingayat and Vokkaliga leaders in the State Congress have been feeling neglected ever since the party undertook the process of candidates’ selection. Leaders of these communities are upset with the high command for not giving them a representation in the AICC Screening Committee.
KPCC president G Parameshwara and legislature party leader Siddaramaiah are the only State leaders in the Committee and both of them do not belong to either of the communities -- while Parameshwara is an SC, Siddaramaiah is a Kuruba.
Though both the Screening and the Election Committees are learnt to have finalised candidates for nearly 200 constituencies, the party high command has decided not to release the list. For, there are chances of rebellion by those who fail to get the ticket and hopping over to other parties. It will be a tough choice for the party to zero in on the candidate for several constituencies like Mandya, Rajajinagar and Bellary city, where the ticket aspirants are prominent party leaders.
Anticipating that Parameshwara and Siddaramaiah may try to push their own supporters for giving the party tickets, former external affairs minister S M Krishna took up the Vokkaliga cause. He is learnt to have held a meeting of Vokkaliga leaders in Bangalore and recently submitted a memorandum to the party high command, demanding adequate representation to the community.
Vokkaligas are understood to have demanded that the party should field the community leaders in at least 57 constituencies, majority of them located in old Mysore region – Bangalore, Bangalore rural, Ramanagar, Tumkur, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Mandya, Mysore and Hassan.
The leaders are learnt to have claimed that their community holds the key in about 76 constituencies. However, the high command has decided to give the ticket to only about 35 Vokkalingas, it is said.
For Krishna, who was not given any prominent position in the party after his stepping down as the union minister, taking up the Vokkaliga cause was an opportunity to try to prove that he is still a force to reckon with in the State. But, ironically, he was made only a member of the party’s campaign committee headed by Lingayat leader Veeranna Mattikatti.
Senior leader Shamnur Shivashankarappa has taken up the Lingayat cause in the party. He, too, recently held a meeting with Lingayat leaders of the party and representatives of Akhila Bharata Veerashiva Mahasaba and submitted a memorandum to the high command, demanding that the community leaders must be fielded in about 70 constituencies.
Shamnur was a strong contender for KPCC chief post and was quite vocal in criticising the State party leaders for allegedly neglecting his community. It is said that he took up the Lingayat cause with an aim to secure a key position for himself at the time of elections. However, the party made Mattikatti, who is also a Lingayat, chairman of the campaign committee.
Taking cue from Vokkaligas and Lingayats, Muslim community leaders led by C K Jaffer Sharief and Rahman Khan recently submitted a memorandum to the high command, demanding that 28 constituencies be reserved for the community leaders. Similarly, women and youth leaders are mounting pressure on the high command.
A group of women leaders, including Mallajamma, Suma Vasanth and Girija Naik, went a step ahead and staged a dharna in front of party chief Sonia Gandhi’s residence on Sunday in Delhi seeking ticket, causing immense embarrassment to the party.