Congress may give DKS a key role

Congress may give DKS a key role

Former Karnataka Congress Minister D.K. Shivakumar (C) gestures to greet party workers. AFP file photo

The Congress is now contemplating to give a bigger role to former minister D K Shivakumar in the party in Karnataka. By doing so, the party is trying to woo the Vokkaligas, a dominant caste in south Karnataka.

The dominant view is that after the alliance with JD(S), a large number of Vokkaligas, who were loyal to Congress, have switched to the BJP. “Now, we have to bring back the community to the party’s fold and Shivakumar may be fit for doing that,” a leader told DH.

“The support of dominant castes like Vokkaligas or Lingayats is most important for the party to come to power. Since Lingayats are seen as strongly backing the BJP, the Congress is trying to enlist the support of the Vokkaligas through Shivakumar,” said a senior leader. When Shivakumar was in jail serving judicial custody, Congress president Sonia Gandhi met him at Tihar jail in Delhi. After his release on bail, Shivakumar met Sonia and Rahul Gandhi as well. Senior Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge drove to the house of Shivakumar’s brother D K Suresh here and met him, triggering speculations.

K C Venugopal, Congress general secretary in charge of Karnataka, said Shivakumar’s release from jail would be a big boost ahead of the byelections in 15 Assembly constituencies.

The party is of the view that like Haryana, where Congress was able to double its tally in this Assembly polls with the support of Dalits and Jats, after making dalit leader Kumari Selja the party state chief and Jat leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the virtual CM face, they can benefit in Karnataka too. Here, the party wants to woo the backward classes led by former CM Siddaramaiah, Dalits led by G Parameshwara and Kharge and Vokkaligas led by Shivakumar.