Rebellion rocks Congress in Ramanagara and Bellary

The party workers staged a protest in front of the District Congress Committee office in Ramanagara. DH photo.

The Congress is facing the heat of rebellion following its decision to extend the support to its alliance partner, JD(S), in the byelection to Ramanagara Assembly constituency. The party workers staged a protest in front of the District Congress Committee office in Ramanagara on Thursday demanding that a Congress candidate be fielded from the constituency.

Congress MLC C M Lingappa, who is leading the dissent in Ramanagara, on Thursday declared that he would himself contest as a rebel candidate, if the party fails to field a candidate in the bypoll.

Lingappa, who had demanded that the party field Iqbal Hussain (defeated candidate in the recent Assembly polls), also said that he wouldn’t hesitate revolting against the party, if the interest of the Congress workers in the district was not safeguarded.

He also said that he would not campaign for Anitha Kumaraswamy, who is the coalition candidate of the Congress and the JD(S).

“I am more concerned about the interest of the party workers in the district, as opposed to the survival of the coalition government. If the party fails to field a candidate, and if Hussain fails to contest as an Independent candidate, I will myself enter the battlefield. I will contest as an Independent. At no cost will I campaign for the JD(S) candidate Anitha Kumaraswamy. The Congress shouldn’t have given the seat to the JD(S),” he added.

Hussain, who is trying to impress upon the state leaders to give him the ticket, said that he would announce his decision after three days. “I haven’t decided on contesting as an Independent. I will take the opinion of my supporters and announce my final decision on Sunday,” he added.

To make matters worse, Lingappa’s son Chandrashekar has joined the BJP. The Congress leaders in the district are worried about the erosion of the party base in the Vokkaliga heartland.

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar and his brother, Bengaluru Rural MP D K Suresh, have reluctantly agreed to ally with the JD(S) in Ramanagara. Their reluctance stems from the fear that a JD(S) victory here would have a ripple effect on the Lok Sabha polls next year - possibly denting Suresh’s prospects in the Bengaluru Rural seat.

Despite consecutive meetings, the Congress leaders, including its troubleshooter, Shivakumar, have been unable to zero in on a candidate for the byelection to Ballary parliamentary seat, owing to the simmering dissent.

The Congress is in a fix owing to the emergence of two factions in the district. On Friday too Shivakumar held a meeting with the district leaders, which remained inconclusive. Except for a couple of MLAs from Ballari, none showed up for the meeting. The minister, who held a one-on-one with party leader Anil Lad, is scheduled to hold another meeting on Friday.

While Bellary MLA B Nagendra is said to be pushing for his brother Venkatesh Prasad to get the ticket, the other MLAs - backed by the Jarkiholi brothers who have emerged as ST leaders - are opposed to this.

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Rebellion rocks Congress in Ramanagara and Bellary

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