High drama prevails in Cong press meet

Infight in the District Congress Committee came to forefront, when former Mayor Ashraf expressed his displeasure for sidelining him while forming the district-level election committee to select candidates for the upcoming urban local body elections, during a press meet addressed by former Union Minister Janardhan Poojary in Mangalore on Wednesday.

Ashraf was irked when he found that his name was not included in the District Manifesto Committee, Election Publicity Committee and Election Candidate Selection Committee list announced by Janardhan Poojary, who is also the District Congress Electoral-In-Charge.
Accusing Poojary of being prejudicial to Muslims, Ashraf interrupted the press meet and demanded an explanation for sidelining him inspite of him being the President of City Block Congress Unit. "I have been sidelined due to personal differences. I am not contesting for the MCC elections this time as I want to work for the party. This injustice is not only against a Muslim leader but also against the Muslim voters," he said.

MLA U T Khader immediately rushed to Ashraf and tried to console him. However, Ashraf continued to scream even more, and Khader escorted him outside the Congress office.
According to the attitude of few Congress leaders, it seemed that the retaliation was expected.

After the high-drama, Poojary admitted that he had expected a retaliation to take place. "There are many other Congress members involved in this issue. However, this development is putting the party in bad light and affecting the image of the party. I hope the DK Congress Party President will take disciplinary action against this," he said.

He further added that the retaliation made no sense. Without including the Block Congress President in the discussion, no candidate is selected. Lot of importance is paid to the Zonal and Block Committee members advise. The election candidates selection committee was formed smoothly. This retaliation is basically to gain publicity," he said.

The allegations made against him, saying that Muslims are prejudiced is false. There are 29 members in the  district-level election committee to select candidates, of which eight are Muslims, four are Christians and two are Jains. A total of 14 belonging to minority group are there in the selection committee, he said. A total of 21 members are selected in the election publicity committee and  19 members in the manifesto committee, he added.

District Congress Committee President Ramanath Rai said that the Congress party will contest for all the 189 seats in the Urban Local Body polls.

Ashraf vents ire

Even though Ashraf was escorted outside the Congress office, he did not keep mum on the issue. He spoke to the media persons outside the Congress Office and vented his ire.
"Congress shall not benefit under the dictatorship of Janardhan Poojary. He is not a leader of the community. He has a few Muslim followers and he uses this to show the world that he works for Muslims. It is we, who actually work for the party," he said.

"Poojary has selected inexperienced people in the manifesto list. I have been a Mayor and have better experience and I can guarantee 13 seats from the 19 wards in my block. However, my experience is overlooked," he claimed.

Poojary had oragnised the Election Candidate Selection Committee in a temple instead of organising it in the party office."This was not acceptable as a temple is a sacred place and is for public. One cannot discuss party affairs here. This is the main reason, I opted not to go to the meet," he said.

"He also said that he decided to disclose the issue in the press meet, as the real politics will reach the high command only through media. The actual picture needs to be brought into limelight," he said.

"I have no desire for power. I am deeply hurt that I am sidelined due to differences and because I am a Muslim. I shall complain this issue to the higher officials. I shall take the issue to Rahul Gandhi," he complained.

Fight on streets

Meanwhile, a few of Ashraf's followers vented their ire. Poojary can never make Congress win. He lost the MP elections against a new BJP Candidate Nalin Kumar Kateel, they ridiculed.

When Congress leader Mohideen Bawa questioned Ashraf on his behaviour, his followers pushed Bawa to the mid street and a verbal battle took place.

'Let's forget...'

A separate press meet was called at the Congress Office in the evening, to assert that all indifferences are solved.

The press meet was held by District Congress Vice President Ibrahim Kodijaal, MLA U T Khader, Congress leader Mohammed Masood. Ashraf was also present in the meet.

"There will be differences in any party. The main thing is to solve them and move forward. All the indifferences that caused due to communication gap have been sorted out," they stressed.

Ashraf also said that the issue was raised because of the situation that was created. However, it is best to leave the issue and work for the betterment of the party. He did not comment with regard to reconciling with Poojary.

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