Cong gets cracking to cement cracks

Cong gets cracking to cement cracks

Stalwarts sing unity mantra, identify faultlines ahead of Lok Sabha bypoll

Having been suitably chided by the party high command, the State Congress leaders are finally showing signs of having woken up from their deep slumber.

The leaders, who have begun to chant the ‘let’s get united’ mantra, are studiously projecting the Udupi-Chikmagalur bypoll as a platform to kickstart the party’s comeback trail after a eight-year hiatus.

The party’s new-found verve was tangible during the Bangalore division meeting on Saturday, presided over by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who has been given the responsibility of increasing the party’s support base in Shimoga, Davangere, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Kolar, Bangalore City, Urban, Rural and Ramanagara districts.

Krishna who, along with his cabinet colleagues – Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily and K H Muniyappa - has been given the added responsibility by the AICC, held the preparatory meeting of his division at the Palace Grounds, where party members, workers and leaders gathered in large numbers.

The meet also saw party bigwigs like Dharam Singh, K H Muniyappa, Siddaramaiah, D K Shivakumar, M V Rajashekharan and G Parameshwara striking a chord with the party workers, with each one of them stressing on the unity factor.

Siddaramaiah had no hesitation in admitting that the party lost many byelections due to the lack of unity in the district units. He requested the senior leaders to take steps to overcome the shortcoming.

He was frank enough to say that there was no point highlighting the shortcomings or controversies surrounding the BJP.

“Caste sentiments are strongly embedded in the minds of the people. Making an emotional connect with the people should be our strategy. Parameshwara and his predecessor at the helm of KPCC organised several public meetings, but we kept losing the bypolls as there is no unity in the party.”

He said the Udupi-Chikmagalur byelection would be a litmus test for the party and should send a message that the party would win the next Assembly polls.

Krishna said AICC had appointed the four union ministers to revive the party in the State. The high command is watching closely, he said.

“The touring will begin shortly. Let’s forget our minor differences. Think seriously – A five year vanavasa (hiatus) is okay, but if it becomes 10 years, it’s dangerous. Begin preparations for the elections. Let’s bring the party back to power,” he said.

Time for juniors
“Seniors like me have enjoyed power in all forms in our political careers. It is time for us to step back and encourage the juniors to take the party forward.” But he did not say whether he will relinquish the posts he holds now.

Taking a jibe at the Central and State BJP, Krishna said while Gadkari had beaten a hasty retreat after the ‘Chintana Manthana Baithak’ that “never took place,” former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had set a bad precedent by becoming the first chief minister in the history of the State to go to jail.

“Eleven of them have gone back to the pavilion, including the former chief minister, while Sadananda Gowda is left standing holding the bat – he does not even have a runner,” he said.

While Muniyappa, Jaffer Sharief, Motamma, C M Ibrahim all joined the chorus, a few suggestions poured in from leaders like Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah, who advised their party chief Parameshwara on the strategies to be adopted.

Parameshwara said a series of mistakes were committed during the 2008 Assembly elections and that they should not be repeated.

Krishna, later in the day, held a closed door meeting with party leaders from Davangere, Chitradurga, Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts.