Congress looks to play BJP hand

Last Updated : 15 October 2019, 20:52 IST

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AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka KC Venugopal on Tuesday said the Congress is open to the idea of fielding disgruntled BJP leaders for the December 5 polls, as the party looks to capitalise on the resentment within the BJP over fielding the disqualified ‘rebel’ Congress and JD(S) legislators.

“We will decide based on merit whether or not we should bring on board the disgruntled BJP leaders,” Venugopal told reporters. “Unlike the BJP, we don’t induct anyone and everyone. We will discuss this with our party workers and then decide,” he added.

Venugopal was in the city to discuss the party’s preparedness for the bypolls to 15 Assembly constituencies. Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao among others were present.

While the Congress is desperate for vengeance against the rebels, the BJP must win at least 6-7 bypolls in order to ensure a simple majority in the Legislative Assembly.

Apparently, the Congress has opened a backchannel to parley with BJP leaders who have evinced interest in jumping ship. While the party has already zeroed in on candidates in some segments, it is yet to get clarity on several others.

Notably, Congress leaders also discussed how some rebels want to get back into the partyfold. The leaders, it is said, explored how this can turn into an advantage as the Congress can then hold on to its vote share and further weaken the BJP in constituencies where it had lost the 2018 Assembly polls.

Party leaders also discussed the possibility of these bypolls not happening at all, because if the Supreme Court strikes down the disqualification the rebels will continue to be MLAs. Also, regardless of the outcome of these bypolls, the Congress is anticipating fresh elections in the state. “There’s talk that Karnataka will go to polls with Delhi early next year,” one Congress leader said.

But, as part of its bypolls preparation, Venugopal is said to have directed the state unit to ensure formation of panchayat-level committees and strengthen booth committees in about a week’s time.

The panchayat committees will nestle between the booth and block committees, which the party hopes will strengthen its grassroots presence.

“We are confident of winning all 15 bypolls,” Venugopal said.

Published 15 October 2019, 19:08 IST

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