Factionalism comes to fore after Siddaramaiah decides not to contest from Kolar constituency

Mar 21, 2023 12:45 AM IST

Factionalism has erupted in Congress party in Karnataka after former chief minister and leader of opposition Siddaramaiah decided not to contest from Kolar constituency for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.

Factionalism has erupted in the Congress party after former chief minister and leader of opposition Siddaramaiah decided not to contest from Kolar constituency for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.

Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. (HTfile)
Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. (HTfile)

According to party sources, the decision was taken by Congress high command after the survey report showed hostile situation for Siddaramaiah in Kolar. In 2018 elections, Siddaramaiah contested from his native Chamundeshwari and Badami constituencies. However, he was defeated by over a margin of 25,000 votes in Chamundeshwari and won from Badami with 1,500 votes.

In Kolar, there are two factions within the Congress - one of former railway minister KH Muniappa and the other one of former assembly speaker Ramesh Kumar. After Siddaramaiah’s decision to contest from another constituency, many candidates from both the factions are trying for a ticket from Kolar.

Congress leaders A Srinivas, LA Manjunath, Balahalli Govindgowda, Urubagilu Srinivas, Chikarayappa, Kottur Manjunath and VR Sudarshan have already submitted applications to contest from Congress ticket. Observing this, KPCC President DK Shivakumar has decided to select a candidate who identifies with both the factions. According to party sources, Shivakumar has instructed DCC bank president Balahalli Govinda Gowda to prepare for the elections.

Meanwhile, Siddaramaiah has been searching for a safe constituency for the upcoming elections. The party decided to field Siddaramaiah in Kolar constituency since Kuruba, Muslim and backward class voters are in large numbers.

According to sources, AICC leader Rahul Gandhi, however, instructed Siddaramaiah to contest from another constituency followed by an internal survey report, and advised him to contest from his native Varuna constituency. According to the report, Siddaramaiah might be defeated due to both factions clash in Kolar. But Siddaramaiah, who is thinking of his son and Varuna MLA Yatindra’s political future, is searching for a safe constituency and reluctant to contest from Varuna, according to party sources.

Siddaramaiah’s reluctance to contest from Kolar has also disappointed thousands of workers and fans in Kolar. On the other hand, opposition leaders are ridiculing Siddaramaiah for not being able to find a safe constituency.

“It is true that the high command instructed my father to contest from another seat. I don’t know what the reason is behind it,” Dr Yatindra Siddaramaiah told reporters in T Narasipura on Monday.

“We even conducted a survey in Kolar twice, but both the surveys confirmed Siddaramaiah’s win in another constituency,” he said, adding that Siddaramaiah would announce his decision in the next two days. He also said that he is ready to give up Varuna for his father and would not contest from another constituency.

On Monday, Vokkaliga, Dalit and Muslim leaders held a meeting in Kolar and decided to press Congress high command to issue ticket to Siddaramaiah from Kolar and it is their responsibility make him win. The leaders would also picket Siddaramaiah’s house in Bengaluru on March 21 with 10,000 supporters to press him to contest from Kolar.

“Siddaramaiah has thousands of sympathisers and supporters in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He would definitely win if he contests from there,” State revenue minister R Ashok told reporters.

“Though Congress is projecting Siddaramaiah as next chief minister it is really pathetic that the unfortunate leader could not get a constituency,” BJP state unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel told reporters in Bhatkal on Monday. “Though Congress leaders have no guarantee of winning, they are distributing gurantee cards to people and fooling them,” he added.

“Siddaramaiah is dreaming of becoming the chief minister of the state again but such a situation should not have come to him,” State unit BJP vice president B Y Vijayendra told reporters in Raichur on Monday. He said though state has 200 plus constituencies Siddaramaiah could not get even one.

But Congress state in-charge Ranadeep Singh Surjewala denied reports that high command instructed Siddaramaiah to contest from another constituency. “Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar are both popular leaders of the state and they would win from any constituency,’ Surjewala told reporters. He said that leaders of many constituencies are inviting Siddaramaiah to contest from their constituency, and the party would decide on it.

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