Balancing act awaits Venugopal at Cong poll meeting

Balancing act awaits Venugopal at Cong poll meeting

All India Congress Committee general secretary incharge of Karnataka K C Venugopal will have his task cut out, when he arrives on Tuesday, to work out the faction-ridden party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha and Assembly bypolls.

Venugopal is scheduled to chair marathon meetings at the party’s headquarters for the Ramanagar, Jamkhandi (Assembly seats), Shimoga, Bellary and Mandya Lok Sabha seats, to which
polls are scheduled on November 3.

With the alliance partners decided to fight the Lok Sabha bypolls together, Venugopal is expected to discuss which seats the Congress will contest and those which should be fought by the JD(S).

According to sources, the Bellary seat is where the Congress will have to work around some challenges, both from within and from the BJP.

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar is the minister incharge of the ST-dominated Ballari district, where the Congress has six legislators who are loyal to the Jarkiholi brothers. Given the feud between the Jarkiholis and Shivakumar, Venugopal will have to make sure these factions are united, party insiders pointed out. Also, there is no consensus within the party on who the candidate should be, with the names of Ballari MLA B Nagendra and his brother Venkatesh doing

While it is highly likely that the JD(S) will field a candidate in the Vokkaliga-dominated Mandya seat, the regional party is said to have asked the Congress for the Shivamogga seat as well. Venugopal will hold talks with Congress leaders on this issue.

The names of former minister Kimmane Rathnakar and Manjunath Bhandari have emerged in the Congress circles as aspirants for the Shivamogga bypoll.

It is said that the party may task Deputy Chief Minister
G Parameshwara and Revenue Minister R V Deshpande with the responsibility of ensuring victory in the Shivamogga bypoll.

Sitting and former MPs, ministers, candidates who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 2018 Assembly polls and heads of the district party units concerned will be part of the daylong meetings.