Baig, Ibrahim and now Sait: Why are Karnataka Congress' Muslim leaders upset?

Sait has joined a growing list of Congress’ Muslim leaders who feel sidelined because of the attention Khan is receiving from Siddaramaiah
Last Updated 27 February 2021, 14:52 IST

Chamarajpet legislator BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan’s rise as the Congress’ Muslim face is causing ‘heartburn’ among leaders from the community, with former minister Tanveer Sait being the latest example of this, according to discussions taking place within the party.

Sait, whose decisions during the recent Mysuru mayoral election caused ripples within the Congress, has hit out at the growing “personality-centric” politics in the party in what was perceived to be a veiled attack on Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah.

In the Mysuru mayoral election earlier this week, Congress was to get the top post as per its understanding with the JD(S). In a plot twist, the JD(S) won the mayor’s seat, which irked Siddaramaiah who is a native of Mysuru. Sait, a former minister who was in charge of the polls, has defended this saying he had to do whatever it took to keep the BJP out of power.

But if one is to go deeper, Sait has joined a growing list of Congress’ Muslim leaders who feel sidelined because of the attention Khan is receiving from Siddaramaiah. In June 2018, Sait had publicly chided Khan, questioning his acceptance within the Muslim community.

According to a senior Muslim leader, Khan’s rise was the reason behind former minister R Roshan Baig’s exit from the party. “Even CM Ibrahim is going away from the party because of Khan. Other senior Muslim leaders such as K Rahman Khan (former MP) and K Abdul Jabbar (former MLC) are also unhappy,” the leader said.

Speculation is rife that the JD(S) is looking to milk this disgruntlement by trying to lure both Ibrahim and Sait.

Zameer, who was with the JD(S), switched to the Congress just before the 2018 elections in a move engineered by Siddaramaiah. Since then, Zameer has become Siddaramaiah’s blue-eyed boy, it is said.

“Siddaramaiah chose Khan over Baig for a ministerial berth during the Congress-JD(S) coalition. Also, he pitched for Zameer’s name for the post of Congress working president, which eventually went to Saleem Ahmed,” a source said.

Zameer accompanied Siddaramaiah during his recent visit to New Delhi to meet former AICC president Rahul Gandhi.

Such is Zameer’s loyalty to Siddaramaiah that he is said to have offered to vacate his Chamarajpet seat to the former chief minister in the next election.

(Published 27 February 2021, 14:20 IST)

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