Congress president Rahul Gandhi spent Sunday meeting some two dozen Congress leaders from Karnataka, including MLAs who have been denied tickets and others who were considered seriously but could not make the cut. The attempt to pacify them and prevent a rebellion, however, had only a partial impact.
A day after the Congress came out with its list of 218 candidates, there were protests in Karnataka. Some senior leaders were upset. Former Union minister K Rahman Khan hit out at the state leadership and CM Siddaramaiah, claiming senior leaders were not consulted and old loyalists were sidelined in favour of those who joined the Congress with the CM.
Sources said that Rahul, along with AICC general secretary in charge K C Venugopal and state Congress president G Parameshwara, met several leaders who were not given tickets. Among them were MLC Nagaraj Chebbi, who wanted to contest against former CM Jagadish Shettar, and MLA Makbul Bagwan, who was denied a ticket. Rahul told them “the party will take their services and take care of them”, a senior leader said.
Reports said dissident Congress workers in Mandya, Chikmagalur, Bengaluru and Bellary took out rallies. “For all seats apart from 80, there was more than one aspirant… so there will be heartburn…” a senior leader said. Party sources said Siddaramaiah had had his way in selection of candidates.
Khan told The Indian Express that he was upset for many reasons. His son Mansoor Ali Khan was an aspirant for Jayanagar seat, which has a substantial Muslim population.
“My son was one of the applicants. Last year also he applied. Then they said ministers’ sons will not be given tickets. This year he applied… Why single out my son?” he said. “The consultation process was not done properly…”
Khan said minorities were not given adequate representation. For instance, he said, the usual practice was to give four seats to minorities in Bengaluru. “This time their seats have been taken by others. Bengaluru, Jayanagar and Hebbal seats, which have minority concentration, were not given to minorities,” he said. “There is a feeling that preference was given to those who joined with Siddaramaiah.”