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What ails the Congress in Karnataka?

March 25, 2009 14:12 IST

In spite of Congress president's Sonia Gandhi's recent rally in Davangere, differences within senior leaders in the Karnataka unit of the party have come to the fore, even before the announcement of the list of candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The most prominent feud seems to be brewing between veteran leader C K Jaffer Sharrief and former Bharatiya Janata Party leader H T Sangliana, who defeated Sharrief in the 2004 Parliamentary election.

Reliable sources in the Congress told that the list of candidates for Karnataka will be announced on March 26. Sharrief, a four-time Member of Parliament and former railway minister, is unlikely to get a ticket from his constituency Bangalore central.

Congress has reportedly chosen to give the ticket to the coveted constituency to Sangliana -- a younger leader capable of attracting more voters. He is also popular among the Christian community, which has been wary in the aftermath of the attacks on churches last year, and the Bangalore central constituency has a sizeable number of Christian and Muslim voters.

The party is hoping to lure Muslim voters with Roshan Baig, who is perceived as the new face of the minority community in the Congress.

Reports suggest that Sharrief might join the Janata Dal - Secular if he is denied a ticket. He has already started criticising Sangliana, claiming that the latter is likely to get a ticket only because he chose to vote for the United Progressive Alliance during the Trust Vote in Parliament last year.

To curb differences within the party, president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee D K Shivakumar has reportedly offered Sharrief the option of contesting from the Bangalore rural seat. But the senior leader is unlikely to take up the offer, since his major vote-bank, the minority community, has a negligible presence in this constituency.

To add to the Congress's woes, Member of Legislative Assembly from Chintamani and party strongman Divaker has threatened to resign if K H Muniyappa is permitted to contest from Kolar constituency.

Former chief minister and party spokesperson Veerappa Moily, who is seeking a party ticket from Chickballapur, is also facing a revolt by local leaders. Congress leaders in Chickballapur claim that Moily is an outsider and have refused to campaign for him if the party grants him a ticket.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore