Parameshwara hopeful of poll victory despite unsure bets

Induction of 'tainted' legislators and according 'religious minority' status to Lingayats are gambles that "may or may not" pay off for the ruling Congress in the upcoming polls.

This candid confession came from Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G Parameshwara no less.

The Congress' roping in businessman Ashok Kheny (Bidar South) who facing the charges of irregularities in the Bengaluru-Mysuru Infrastructure Corridor project, B Nagendra (Kudligi) and Anand Singh (Hosapete), who are accused in the illegal mining scam, drew much flak from various quarters, including from within.

"We took a chance. In Hosapete, for example, the Congress hasn't won for the last 25-30 years. Let's suppose they win, they become legislators in our party. If they have to go to jail for their misdeeds, what can we do? We just want numbers to form a government," Parameshwara said during a free-wheeling chat with reporters.

"Even in Kheny's case, we haven't won Bidar South for many years. If Kheny loses, he loses. It's just a chance factor. That's what politics is all about."

The Lingayat religion issue is also a gamble. "It may help as people in favour of this may stand with us. But it will get equalized, because those opposing this will oppose us. It can be positive or negative."

Parameshwara also admitted that there was a token of "overconfidence" within the party. "Both chief minister and I are aware of the overconfidence factor. If we yield to this, we will be in trouble."

The Bengaluru division comprising 79 Assembly segments will be a challenge for the Congress, Parameshwara said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is slated to tour the region early next month. "It's a challenge because it's mostly urban. We can't do here what we did in Kalaburagi. In Bengaluru and its surrounding, we have to have very good candidates for us to win half the battle."

There are 25-30 party leaders seeking tickets for their children and relatives, he said. "Winnability will be the criterion and the high command will decide finally." Also, Parameshwara said the party wants to give tickets to at least 20 women this time against 12 in the 2013 election.

Parameshwara is confident, however, that the Congress will retain power. "A survey I commissioned for the party gives us enough seats to form a government."

High command to decide on CM

Parameshwara, who was projected as a chief ministerial probable in the past, said the question of him being considered for the top post would not arise if the high command decided to continue Siddaramaiah for a second term. "However, a message has been given to the high command that there are people belonging to the underprivileged also capable of holding the office of the chief minister. The message is loud and clear. The high command should take a decision at an appropriate time," he said.

 

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