'Tell-all report spills the beans on why Cong lost'

Among the reasons for veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge's defeat in the recent Lok Sabha polls was the "high-handedness" of his son Priyank and former minister Sharanaprakash Patil, according to the party's fact-finding committee that submitted its report on Tuesday. 

The six-member committee headed by senior leader V R Sudarshan looked into the reasons behind the party's defeat in the 2018 Assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha polls. 

The committee found that in Kolar, former Union minister K H Muniyappa lost because of "personal differences" with the Congress' K R Ramesh Kumar and Varthur Prakash. 

In Tumkur, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda of the JD(S) tasted defeat due to "family politics" and the consolidation of Lingayat votes against him. 

"In Gulbarga, party leaders felt sidelined owing to the dominance of Priyank and Patil, which led to the alienation of the likes of A B Malakareddy," a committee member told DH.

"Muniyappa told us that Kumar and Prakash worked against him in Kolar. In Tumkur, Lingayats are numerically stronger. Gowda's candidature was seen as him challenging the community; so they voted against him. Plus, the push for his family members to get elected was received negatively by people," the leader said, adding that the report had district-wise findings of what exactly happened. "Basically, the alliance with the JD(S) was a liability for the Congress."

The committee's 63-page report was formally submitted to Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao.

"We've not hidden anything," former minister Basavaraj Rayareddi told reporters. "Going into the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress and the JD(S) had a combined vote share of 57%. But 17-20% swung towards the BJP, which ended up with 51.40% votes. So, clearly, people rejected the coalition government that was in power," he explained. 

The controversial decision to declare Lingayats as a religious minority and the "overconfidence" of leaders contributed to the Congress' defeat in the 2018 polls, the committee found. "The party failed to counter BJP's disinformation campaign on the Lingayat issue," said Rayareddi, who was part of the separate Lingayat religion movement, but lost the polls.

In the 2018 polls, about 1.39 crore people voted for the Congress and 1.32 crore for the BJP. "Congress had a higher vote share of 38.14%, which was 1.41% more than what we got in 2013. So there was no anti-incumbency factor against the Siddaramaiah government," Rayareddi pointed out. 

Rao said he will study the report and discuss it with senior leaders to strengthen the party going forward.

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