Ahead of LS poll, discontent looms over Cong

Last Updated 23 March 2019, 03:50 IST

The Congress will go into the Lok Sabha polls with a nagging worry that disgruntlement of some influential leaders could make the party’s prospects sluggish in at least five constituencies.

Several Congress leaders have carried disgruntlement with them ever since the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition was formed.

It is learnt that the Congress is concerned about Belgaum, Bellary, Chikkaballapur, Bagalkot and Bangalore Central where key leaders, who are miffed with the party over being denied Cabinet positions or due to their individual turf wars, may become neutral and not fully help the party win.

"We have to do this election with whatever risk there is,” a senior Congress leader who is a member of Kumaraswamy’s Cabinet said about how the disgruntlement may work against the party’s prospects.

In Belgaum, Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak) has completely kept distance from the party leadership. In fact, the Congress has sought his disqualification for "anti-party" activity. His acolyte Mahesh Kumathalli (Athani) is also named in the party’s disqualification petition. They could throw a spanner in the Congress’ attempt to wrest Belgaum from the BJP, sources said.

In Bellary, two legislators - J N Ganesh (Kampli) and B Nagendra (Bellary) - have fallen out with the party. While Ganesh is in jail for allegedly assaulting Vijayanagar MLA Anand Singh, Nagendra also faces the prospect of disqualification for "anti-party" activity. Plus, the BJP has fielded Devendrappa, who happens to be a relative of the Jarkiholis.

The Congress is wary that senior leader S R Patil, a Lingayat, may not put in his full effort to help the party wrest the Bagalkot seat from the BJP. Patil resigned as the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee working president last year, apparently because he felt sidelined.

Locally, Patil has differences with former MLA Vijayanand Kashappanavar. "Bagalkot looks difficult anyway as the result will depend on which side the Reddy Lingayats pick," a source said.

In Chikkaballapur, the party is worried about MLA K Sudhakar becoming neutral. Sudhakar is miffed with Chief Minister Kumaraswamy for blocking his appointment as Karnataka State Pollution Control Board chairperson.

Similarly, R Roshan Baig (Shivajinagar) may not show enthusiasm in the Bangalore Central segment. He, too, was not inducted into the Cabinet.

While the Congress is trying to diffuse dissidence to ensure its alliance with the JD(S) worked, the minister quoted above said: "No amount of outreach will work with some leaders who are in their own realm."

(Published 22 March 2019, 16:55 IST)

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