Senior Muslim leaders of Cong upset with leadership

Senior Congress leader and seven-time MLA R Roshan Baig’s scathing attack against the Congress leadership is seen as an indication of simmering discontent among a section of Muslim leaders of the party in the state.

Many senior Congress leaders belonging to the Muslim community are said to be upset with the state leadership, especially coordination committee chairman Siddaramaiah, for sidelining them.

Their main grouse is that Chamarajpet MLA B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan, who is Minister for Minorities Affairs and Food and Civil Supplies, is getting prominence in the party. Zameer is a Siddaramaiah follower.

Sources in the Congress said Baig had been sulking in the party for being denied the Cabinet berth. Instead, Zameer, who joined the Congress after quitting the JD(S) before the 2018 Assembly polls, managed to become a minister with the help of Siddaramaiah. Zameer is also of late trying to position himself as the Muslim face of the party.

Siddaramaiah had given the responsibility of pacifying party leaders, who had threatened to contest as rebel candidates in the recently held Kundagol Assembly byelections, to Zameer. Besides, neither Siddaramaiah nor KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao consulted the Muslim leaders while finalising the party candidate for Bengaluru Central parliamentary seat. The party fielded MLA Rizwan Arshad as suggested by Siddaramaiah, the sources said.

All these developments, sources said, have caused lot of resentment among senior community leaders, including C M Ibrahim and Tanveer Sait. The late Congress leader C K Jaffer Sharief, too, had criticised Siddaramaiah for the same reason a few months ago. In fact, Ibrahim on Tuesday refused to comment on Baig’s outburst.

This apart, it is feared that Baig’s statements would open floodgates on May 23 and dissident party leaders would start openly speaking against the party leadership if the Congress puts up a poor show in Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka.

Several of the “loyal” and “original” Congress leaders are upset with the way Siddaramaiah has been handling the JD(S)-Congress coalition government. Siddaramaiah is considered an outsider as he joined the party in 2006.

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