Long-time Congressman C K Jaffer Sharief may well be the prize catch for the JD(S) this election season.
Sources in the party said that Sharief may opt to contest from Mysore on a JD(S) ticket. However, his family members want him to contest from Bangalore Central, it is said. If this happens, the minorities would drift to a certain extent from the Congress to the JD(S) is the calculation by JD(S) leaders.
Sharief told Deccan Herald that his association with the Congress was a closed chapter. He said he would contest the polls, but was not ready to disclose the choice of his constituency. He said his followers from Chikkaballapur met him on Monday and requested him to contest from there.
“But I am not for that constituency. There are requests from Bidar also. The people of Mysore still remember me, because it was during my tenure as the railway minister that the metre gauge railway track to Bangalore was converted into broad gauge,” he said.
JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy said, “We want Sharief to contest from Mysore. The Mysore unit of the JD(S) is unanimously supporting Sharief. He has told us that he will announce his decision on March 20 from Makkah.”
A majority of the Muslim leaders in the Congress do not want Sharief to quit the party. They fear that their votebank will shrink in case the minorities drift towards the JD(S). However, no one wants to be quoted on this.
Union Minister of Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan, the bete noire of Sharief, said, “He (Sharief) is a tall leader in the Congress. But it is the decision of the party high command that importance should be given to youth in these elections.
Not only Sharief, a number of leaders across the country have not got tickets due to the decision of the party. This is a policy decision taken in the interest of the party,” he stated. Asked whether the rebellion by Sharief would harm the party’s poll prospects, he said he does not want to speculate.
Dhananjay in Udupi
Another migrant to the JD(S) is V Dhananjay Kumar, who is technically with the KJP now. He was with the BJP from 1980 till Yeddyurappa floated the KJP. The BJP is not ready to reconsider the decision not to reinduct him.
“My return to the party has been blocked by H N Ananth Kumar. It is wrong to assume that I was not taken back into the party because I made some comments against L K Advani. If that was the case, how did G S Basavaraj get back into the party after making comments against Advani?” he said.
He said that he would contest as the JD(S) candidate from the Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency. His one-time colleague Shobha Karandlaje has already begun her campaign there as the BJP nominee.