Cong may not stick to Rahul's age yardstick in State

Many Lok Sabha election ticket aspirants are aged above 60

Cong may not stick to Rahul's age yardstick in State

If Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is serious about giving primacy to youngsters and grassroots workers in the party, many senior Congress leaders from the State, including sitting MPs, should not be in the fray for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Of the nine Congress MPs from the State, six are senior citizens - above 60 years of age. Bidar MP Dharam Singh is 77, while Union Minister Veerappa Moily is 73, Union Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge 71, Union Minister of State K H Muniyappa 65, H Vishwanath 65 and Jayaprakash Hegde 61. Moily is the Chikkaballapur MP and Kharge represents Gulbarga.

Muniyappa, Vishwanath and Hegde are the MPs from Kolar, Mysore and Udupi-Chikmagalur, respectively.

However, all of them are ticket aspirants. And, there is every chance of voters seeing them again in the fray.  

Also, 76-year-old former union minister B Janardhana Poojary is keen on contesting from Dakshina Kannada, the seat now held by BJP’s Nalin Kumar Kateel. The Dakshina Kannada Congress committee, it is said, has sent a single name - that of Poojary - to the State election committee as the suitable candidate. 

Poojary, who was defeated in the last LS polls, is confident of getting the ticket as well as winning the seat. But his age may be a deterring factor for the party to consider him. 

“It will not be. There are 545 Lok Sabha seats in the country. Of these, two are reserved for Anglo Indians. Will the party be giving 543 seats for only youngsters? Will Kapil Sibal be denied ticket? Winnability should be the criteria. A candidate should not be facing criminal cases and should have served the party for a minimum of five years. Of course, importance should be given for youth too,” Poojary said. 

Poojary said though he is an aspirant, the election committees at the State and Delhi level have to clear the names. The State panel is meeting in Bangalore on Monday. 

The district Congress committee of Chikkaballapur has recommended only the name of Moily. It is rumoured that his son is keen on contesting from Dakshina Kannada. However, so far Moily has not expressed his mind. The youngest MP from Karnataka is Ramya, 31, from Mandya. D K Suresh, MP from Bangalore Rural, is 47. Both are going to face the polls again.

Speculations are rife that in case Dharam Singh keeps off from elections due to personal reasons, the party may consider fielding a Lingayat from Bidar. 

Nandan Nilekani, 58, the party says, is sure of becoming the Bangalore South candidate as he has the support of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Without the high command’s knowledge, he would probably not have expressed his desire to contest from Bangalore, sources said. If Rahul goes by his words of encouraging only grassroots workers, he would not be able to ‘impose’ Nilekani. The Bangalore party unit is in favour of fielding U B Venkatesh for the seat. 

Minority candidate

The ticket for the Bangalore Central seat, in all probability, would go to a candidate belonging to the minority community (Muslim). Former MP Jaffer Sharief, Minister Roshan Baig and State Youth Congress president Rizwan Arshad are among those aspiring to be the candidate. The Bangalore North seat may either go to a Vokkaliga or a backward classes leader. The names of B L Shankar, Rajeev Gowda and Minister Krishna Byre Gowda are doing the rounds. 

Another woman candidate the party may field is Lakshmi Nimbalkar for the Belgaum seat, it is said. She is the party’s Belgaum district unit president. In case of Chikkodi, former minister A B Patil and Minister Prakash Hukkeri are being considered, it is learnt. 

For Tumkur, the names of former legislator Mudduhanume Gowda and Santosh Jayachandra, son of Minister T B Jayachandra, are in circulation. It is said KPCC president G Parameshwara is inclined to field Gowda. 

Many aspirants

For the Dharwad seat, there are many aspirants. They include former MP Manjunath Kunnur, Lohit Nayak and A M Hindasageri. For the Haveri seat, the names of D R Patil, brother of minister H K Patil, former MP I G Sanadi and Saleem Ahmed are doing the rounds. 

The party may again field Hanumanthaiah, who lost to J Shanta of BJP last time, from the Bellary ST reserved constituency. 

The party, sources said, now and then talks about packing the JD(S) off from Hassan. But it is finding it tough to zero in on a suitable candidate to take on former prime minister H D Deve Gowda. In case Rahul Gandhi decides to try his electoral fortunes from Karnataka, Davangere is a safer bet than Udupi-Chikmagalur, according to State Congress sources. However, so far there are no indications that he would contest from Karnataka, sources said. 

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