Embarrassed over mounting allegations of sale of party tickets in Karnataka, the Congress has widened the scope of its existing five-member panel, headed by defence minister AK Antony, to look into the charges.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had constituted the high-powered committee on March 20 to coordinate and monitor the May 5 assembly elections in Karnataka.
The allegations of sale of tickets in about 20-25 constituencies has caused turmoil among Congress workers and leaders. Sensing Congress victory this time, the number of ticket seekers has increased substantially. There were around 2,500 aspirants for tickets to the 224 seats.
The charges have affected the campaigning and the party’s state headquarters in Bangalore has been witnessing protests over the past several days and also given the ruling BJP a handle to attack the Congress.
Besides Antony, Ambika Soni, Vayalar Ravi, Luizinho Faleiro and Jitendra Singh are other members of the committee. Party general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Madhusudan Mistry, state unit president G Parmeshwara and CLP leader Siddharamiah are its ex-officio members.
The panel will now hold consultations with the disgruntled leaders and try to address their grievances. Congress sources did not rule out minor changes in the party’s first list of 177 candidates. The second list of the remaining 47 candidates is expected to be out in the next few days after the Congress president’s return from abroad.
The party had already deputed fresh team observers to these constituencies to get details about the potential candidates.