Sonia refuses to meet Lingayat leaders

But spares time for former minister Rani Sathish
Last Updated 18 September 2012, 18:44 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday refused to meet a delegation of Lingayat leaders of her party from Karnataka that came here to press for replacing G Parameshwara with a leader belonging to the Lingayat community to head the state Congress unit.
Sonia, however, chose to call former minister Rani Sathish to have her views on the demand by Lingayat leaders in the party. Sources said, Sathish briefed Sonia on the political situation in the state and explained the importance of giving Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president's post to a leader from the Lingayat community.

The Congress president directed other members of the delegation to meet her political secretary Ahmed Patel and elaborate their demands and grievances to him. The former Kannada and culture minister is learned to have told Gandhi that replacement of the present KPCC chief with a leader from the Lingayat community would help the party woo the community voters ahead of the state assembly elections due in a few months’ time.

The other members of the delegation met Gandhi’s political secretary, demanding replacement of Parameshwara, a dalit, with Lingayat leader Shivashankarappa. They claimed that the party in its present organisational arrangement would not be able to defeat the BJP in the state because of the ruling party’s resources and its clout with
Lingayat mutts.

The demand for replacement of Parameshwara with Shivashankarappa has been there for some months now. But, the campaign against the present KPCC president has intensified following widespread resentment over a list of party workers that Parameshwara drew up for appointment as in-charge for 224 Assembly constituencies.

A section of Lingayat leaders in the party, which has also been joined by some backward class leaders in the move against Parameshwara, is upset with the present KPCC president because the list was allegedly prepared without consulting them. They were also upset that Sonia, being the party president, had no time to listen to their grievances.

But, sources in the state Congress said Lingayat leaders were themselves divided on the issue of giving presidentship to a leader belonging to their community. A section of Lingayat leaders including opposition leader in the State Legislative Council S R Patil, Basavaraj Rayareddy and Appaji Nadagouda are said to be opposing the demand. They did not even join the delegation.

(Published 18 September 2012, 18:44 IST)

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