Rift escalates between Cong loyalists, migrants

Karnataka Election 2018 Rebel constituency

The ongoing feud between “insiders” and “migrants” in the ruling Congress is likely to scale up with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah (considered a migrant) gaining an upper hand in the selection of party candidates for the May 12 Assembly elections.

Siddaramaiah has succeeded in getting the tickets to a majority of his followers and those who jumped ship from other parties in the recent days, despite stiff resistance from senior state leaders, considered insiders or party loyalists. Many of his close followers, including H M Revanna (Channapatna) and Byrati Suresh (Hebbal), too, have managed to get the ticket.

It is now feared that the insider-migrant spat may ruin the party’s poll prospects. Some of the senior aggrieved leaders, including former Union ministers Rahman Khan and AICC spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa, have openly expressed their ire. The party on Sunday announced its candidates for 218 seats of the total 224 constituencies in the state.

Seven former JD(S) MLAs, five Independent MLAs and one BJP MLA, all bagged the ticket to contest the polls in the constituency of their choice. Businessman Ashok Kheny, who was Bidar South MLA from Karnataka Makkala Paksha, has also made it to the list. These leaders joined the Congress at the behest of Siddaramaiah.

Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge, who was against the party giving tickets to some of these leaders, especially Kheny, had taken up the cause of party loyalists. He had reportedly opposed Siddaramaiah’s proposal to give tickets to many of them at the AICC Central Election Committee meeting in Delhi.

Other senior leaders, including KPCC president G Parameshwara and M Veerappa Moily, had supported Kharge.

Kharge upset

But the party high command ultimately chose to go with those Siddaramaiah had proposed as candidates in most constituencies, citing winnability as the criterion. That Kharge was upset with these selections was evident as he refused to comment on the party’s list of candidates to the media in Bengaluru on Monday.

“I don’t want to comment,” he told media persons at his Sadashivanagar residence.

Former Union ministers, Rahman Khan, C K Jaffer Sharief and Moily are also upset as their followers and children were not accommodated in the list.

Khan had sought the ticket for his son Mansoor Ali Khan from Jayanagar constituency, while Sharief wanted to field his grandson Abdul Rahman Sharief from Hebbal.

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