Sonia visit set to galvanise party for poll: Oscar Fernandes

Sonia visit set to galvanise party for poll: Oscar Fernandes

Congress general secretary Oscar Fernandes, on Friday, was busy supervising the arrangements being made for the visit of his party chief Sonia Gandhi, who will inaugurate the Guruvandana programme at Siddaganga Mutt in Tumkur and visit the drought-hit Nagasamudra village in Molakalmur taluk of Chitradurga district on Saturday.

He is camping in Tumkur to ensure that all goes well during her visit. Oscar says the Congress is surcharged as everyone in the party is eagerly waiting to listen to her. He spoke to Deccan Herald in a brief telephonic interview.

The Congress party seems to be buoyed by Sonia’s visit to Siddaganga Mutt?

Yes. The atmosphere is surcharged. After a long time, she has come here and the party leaders and workers are eager to listen to her. They will be able to know her thinking on various issues. 

Is she expected to set the tone for the next Assembly elections? 

That goes without saying. But it would be wrong to say that the party is working towards elections now. 

So, the Congress has decided to woo back Lingayats through Saturday’s event?

The Mutt and Lingayats are two separate entities. Lingayats are not the BJP. There are Lingayats in the BJP. There are many Lingayats in the Congress too. A religious place should not be construed as a political forum. We should not bring politics to such places. Shivakumara Swami’s life is an example for mankind. He has done yeoman service to humanity. For him, Janata Seve is Janardhana Seve. He is God, who is worshipped everyday. He has nothing to do with politics. His achievements are the ultimate on what one can do for society. The testimony for his services are the institutions he has built to provide education to scores of children of all classes and religions. 

It is a fact that the Congress has moved away from Lingayats, which is the third largest votebank in the State.

I do not agree that the party has distanced itself from Lingayats. Allum Veerabhadrappa and V S Koujalagi were KPCC presidents, and they resigned on their own. 

Is BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa looking towards the Congress to rehabilitate himself?

Yeddyurappa is facing corruption charges. His name is associated with illegal mining. He figures in the Lokayukta report on mining. 

Our whole fight is against corruption and illegal mining. So, the question of welcoming him to the party doesn’t arise. We have clarity on this issue. 

The KPCC is bogged down by leadership issue. How will you tackle it? Are you happy with the performance of the state leaders?

The UPA government’s programmes should reach the people through the party leaders and workers. This is yet to be done here. 

Siddaramaiah is a strong contender for the chief minister’s post. Will the party project any one leader as the chief ministerial candidate during the campaign for the 2013 elections?

Siddaramaiah is the leader of the Congress legislature party. He is holding a high office. He is responding to us. There should be ‘inclusive’ leadership and people who want to become leaders should grow in stature to that level. Leadership will come by rotation.

Those who want to become leaders should ensure that the party consolidates its position. 

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