THE APPOINTMENT of Dinesh Gundu Rao as the president of the Karnataka Congress, overlooking veterans like H K Patil and K H Muniyappa, on Wednesday came as a surprise to many Congress leaders from the state. A section of the Congress leaders argued that the decision would upset the delicate social balance and ruffle the feathers of many senior leaders.
Sources said many of the senior Congress leaders are unhappy over the decision and their ire is directed towards AICC general secretary in charge of the state K C Venugopal. “With this decision, the Congress can now win all the 28 Lok Sabha seats in 2019,” a senior leader said sarcastically when asked about his views on the appointment.
Along with Rao, the party appointed Eshwar B Khandre, an MLA and former minister, as the working president. Khandre belongs to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community. Rao replaced Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara, who had been at the helm of Karnataka Congress for eight years. Rao belongs to the Brahmin community.
“Four Brahmin MLAs are there in the Congress in Karnataka. One has been made the Assembly Speaker, second a Cabinet minister and the third was today appointed as the state president. The one left would be made the chairman of some board or corporation… Brahmins constitute about two per cent of the population… and among them 99 per cent vote for the BJP. This decision defies logic,” a senior leader told The Indian Express.
“The post should have gone to a Dalit or a Lingayat,” another leader said.
A senior leader said Congress president Rahul Gandhi cannot be blamed for the decision although Rao is seen as his choice. He blamed Venugopal instead saying, “The Congress president takes a decision on the basis of the feedback given by the general secretary. If the feedback is faulty, what can he do?”
The leaders, however, said the appointment of Khandre was a right decision.
Several Congress leaders, including Patil, Muniyappa, S R Patil, H K Patil and M B had lobbied hard for the KPCC president’s post. Muniyappa, a CWC member and seven-time Lok Sabha MP from Kolar, was said to be upset over the decision although he told The Indian Express that “as disciplined soldiers of the Congress party we will wholeheartedly support the newly-appointed president and the working president”.
“Once the Congress president has taken a decision… we have to abide, respect and welcome it,” he said.