Thursday, 20 March, 2008

Is Cong smiling?

B D Narayankar

KARNATAKA: Even as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has been making strides to solve the differences among Karanataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) members, the news of Assembly elections by May end has jolted the party which is making a bid to come back to power.

Congress, in fact, had petitioned the Election Commission (EC) not to hold the polls unless electoral rolls were corrected as per the new re-drawn constituencies.

A little probe into the Congress’ reluctance to face election by May end is something to do with the internecine differences within the party. The party is heading towards a major crisis after former chief minister S M Krishna re-entered Karnataka politics after quitting the post of Maharashtra Governor recently.

The differences came out in the open when the supporters of KPCC president and a prominent Dalit leader from North Karanataka Mallaikarjun Kharge met AICC president Sonia Gandhi at New Delhi and sought an assurance on the future prospects of their esteemed leader in the event of Krishna’s re-entry into Karnataka politics.

Infact, the Kharge camp had been resisting Krishna’s re-entry into the state’s politics for quite some time. Kharge has been at the helm of KPCC affairs for nearly three years now and though there has been no official word, he is touted to be the chief ministerial candidate.

The internecine differences came to the fore once again when a section of KPCC brass and senior Congress leaders chose to stay away from the reception accorded to Krishna by his loyalists.

Kharge, who was very much present in the city, chose to interact with party workers from Koppal district, instead of giving a warm welcome to Krishna. C K Jaffer Sherief, Margaret Alva and Veerappa Moily among others.

The differences in the party are community based. The dominant Vokkaliga community is rallying behind. Krishna, while senior Congress leaders such as M Veerappa Moily, Oscar Fernandes, B K Hariprasad, M V Rajasekharan, R L Jalappa, Tejaswini Gowda, C K Jaffer Sharief and N Dharam Singh are rallying behind Kharge who is a Dalit.

There are three groups in the State Congress: the pro-Krishna group (Vokkaliga), old Congressmen (Kharge, Sharief, Moily, Dharam Singh and others) and Siddaramaiah group (comprising former JD members).


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