'Semi-final' first on parties' minds

Cong to focus on ULB polls

'Semi-final' first on parties' minds

The Congress has decided to focus on the urban local body elections till March 11, the day the results are scheduled to be out. Thereafter, it will start preparing for the Assembly polls.

The election committee, constituted to look into the applications of ticket aspirants for the Assembly elections, met on Saturday in Bangalore. Instead of discussing the Assembly elections, it decided to channelise its energy towards the ULB polls.

Of the 51 members on the panel headed by MLC Veeranna Mathikatti, 44 attended the meeting held at a resort on the outskirts of the City.

A prominent absentee was S M Krishna, who was away in New Delhi, party sources said. Since his return to Bangalore from the national capital in November, Krishna has kept off all party meetings. It is said that unless the party gives him some responsible position, he may not get involved in routine work.

Madhusudhan Mistry, AICC general secretary and in charge of the party affairs in Karnataka, all the four MPs from Karnataka who are Union ministers, Oscar Fernandes, B K Hariprasad, Karnataka Congress unit president G Parameshwara, Siddaramaiah, Dharam Singh, Jaffer Sharief and D K Shivakumar were among those who attended the meeting.

The election committee, which was scheduled to meet on Saturday and Sunday, wound up its meeting by 3:30 pm, cancelling its meeting on Sunday. The next date for the panel meeting has not been fixed.

Work for victory

Sources said Mistry and others were of the view that the sitting MLAs, those aspiring to contest the Assembly polls and the members of the election committee should ensure the victory of Congress candidates contesting the ULB polls. Those who fail to perform well in the local body elections may be denied a ticket for the Assembly elections, sources said.

The ULB polls are considered as mini Assembly elections. For MLAs, who were making preparations to face the next Assembly polls before the end of May, the ULB polls have come as a shocker. It is a sort of unwritten norm that MLAs have to manage the elections, including extending financial support, to those contesting the ULB polls.

Senior leaders were of the view that every care should be taken to ensure that rebels do not spoil the prospects of the party’s official nominees. The leaders said those who fail to get tickets would be suitably rewarded.

Senior leaders from each district would be involved in preparing local manifestos.
Parameshwara told reporters after the meeting that the district party units had been given freedom to select candidates and the state-level leaders would intervene only if required.

He said party vice president Rahul Gandhi was keen that the Congress formed the government in Karnataka after the next Assembly elections.

Sources said the Congress had decided to make maximum use of infighting in the ruling BJP to win the ULB polls.

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