Cong ticket fight goes public as senior leader takes on KPCC chief

Vaijanath Patil expresses anger over son being overlooked for Council poll

The fight for party tickets in the Congress came out in the open on Tuesday when senior leader Vaijanath Patil called state party president G Parameshwara a "chamcha" for not giving his son a ticket to contest the Legislative Council election.

Patil, 80, arrived at the Congress headquarters with the support of a walker when Parameshwara had just finished addressing a press conference.

The former MLA raised the issue of his son Vikram not being given a ticket to contest the upcoming election to the Council from North-East Graduates constituency. Patil, who spearheaded the campaign to get special status for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region under Article 371J of the Constitution in the past, formally joined Congress in 2014.

"Former chief minister, the late Dharam Singh got two tickets for his sons - one MLA and one MLC. Mallikarjun Kharge's son was also given a MLA ticket," Patil said, seeking to know why his son was not given a ticket.

Parameshwara responded that it was a decision taken by the party high command. "No, you did that. You did chamchagiri," Patil charged. At this point, the KPCC president requested Patil to sit, while he took more questions from the press. When the KPCC president started walking out of the conference room, an angry Patil shouted, "We still have to talk, where are you running? Aye adhyaksha... aye chamcha."

Patil's outburst is attributed to the fact that many Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, have openly announced fielding their children in the upcoming Assembly elections. For instance, Siddaramaiah has announced that his son Dr Yathindra will contest from the Varuna constituency.

Earlier in the press conference, Parameshwara said the party was "sensitively" assessing potential candidates to contest the coming elections during the campaign tours. "Both Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and I are assessing which candidate is winnable. The performance of sitting legislators is being reviewed as well. This will help us finalise candidates," he said.

The party's campaign tour, which will focus on 100 Assembly constituencies where the party lost in the 2013 polls, will conclude next month.

"So far, we have covered 18 Assembly segments. By February first week, we will cover all 100 Assembly seats. Wherever we go, we are asking people what has been done and what needs to be done in their constituencies," Parameshwara said.

BOX

Citizens as party's voice

AICC communications convenor Priyanka Chaturvedi held day-long meetings at the Congress headquarters on Tuesday with citizens who have applied to become part of the party's communications department in Karnataka.

"We're listening to their voices, points of view and perspectives to understand how they can strengthen the party's voice," she told reporters. "There is a flurry of interest from people working and living in Bengaluru, retired professors and women. We have invited those who match our profile," she added. In a first, the party has invited applications from "liberal men and women" as part of a revamp of the party's communications department.

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