The Congress is mulling to give a bigger role to former Minister D K Shivakumar, who was arrested by Enforcement Directorate in connection with money laundering case, in the party in Karnataka.
By giving a larger role to Shivakumar in the organisation, the party is eyeing to lure Vokkaligas, a dominant caste in the South Karnataka.
Though the party is yet to decide what role should be given to him, the dominant view is that after the alliance with JD(S), a large number of Vokkaligas, who were loyal to Congress, have migrated to the BJP. Now we have to bring back the community to the party's fold and Shivakumar may be fit for that, a leader told DH.
"The support of dominant castes like Vokkaligas or Lingayats are most important for the party to come to power in Karnataka. Since Lingayats are seen as strongly backing to BJP, the Congress is eyeing to net Vokkaligas through Shivakumar," said a senior leader.
When Shivakumar was in jail serving judicial custody, Congress president Sonia Gandhi met him at Tihar Jail.
After releasing on bail also, Shivakumar met Sonia and former President Rahul Gandhi as well. Senior Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge himself drove to the house of Shivakumar’s brother D K Suresh here and met him triggering the speculation of the rise of former Minister's rank in the party.
Even Karnataka in-charge General Secretary K C Venugopal also said the release of Shivakumar would be a big boost to the organisation for the fight in 15 assembly bypolls as his services would be utilised there properly.
The party is of the view that like Haryana, where Congress was able to double its tally in this assembly poll with Dalit and Jat combine after making Dalit leader Kumari Selja, the party-state chief and Jat leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the virtual CM face, they can also benefit in Karnataka with the same experiment.
In Karnataka, the party wants to combine backward classes led by former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Dalit led by former Minister G Parameshwar and Kharge and Vokkaliga led by Shivakumar.
With the party facing a dearth of Vokkaliga leaders after former Chief Minister S M Krishna went to the BJP, the Congress has tried to promote several Vokkaliga leaders including former minister Krishna Byre Gowda, late film actor Ambarish and even former MP Ramya, but the plan did not click well.
After his arrest, Shivakumar himself succeeded in a certain extent to project this as an assault on the Vokkaliga community. Soon after his arrest in the first week of September, his community leaders staged a rally in Bengaluru in apparent attempt to send a strong political message to the BJP.
Though Shivakumar earlier lobbied hard to become the Pradesh Congress President or the Leader of Opposition in Assembly, he failed in his bid during Rahul Gandhi regime. Since Sonia Gandhi is now the President, old hands like Shivakumar hoping to get a plump post in the party.