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Saturday, October 16, 2021

In Karnataka,Congress’s Catch 222

There's a sense that party is serious about picking distinguished nominees to wrest Karnataka from BJP.

Written by Johnson T A |
Updated: April 16, 2014 12:27:16 pm

Going by the extended deliberations that the Congress put into picking its first list of 177 candidates for elections to the 224-member Karnataka Assembly,there was a sense that the party was serious about picking distinguished nominees to wrest Karnataka from the BJP.

There was also a sense that the improved experience levels of the party’s leadership in matters of mass politics and the lessons from the Karnataka 2008 polls — when power was there for the taking but dissidence proved the proverbial slip between the cup and the lip — would guide Congress efforts to return to power in the state after seven years.

In the end,the grand old party only flattered to deceive. The balancing act of social justice and pandering to prominent leaders is once again seeing a groundswell of dissidence in the ranks,with several disgruntled aspirants threatening to queer the pitch come May 5.

The local leadership of the Congress believes it has done well in balancing the interests of the multitude of leaders and the caste equations given the circumstances — there were 10 aspirants for a seat at the lower end of the spectrum and as many as 60 at the upper end.

However,looking at the 222 names picked by the party as of Tuesday,the disguise of “winnability” notwithstanding,family lineage and the established order in the Congress appear to have got precedence as usual. Many of the youths in the list are relatives or progeny of top leaders.

While the Congress has been able to keep out people with criminal records — in the strictest sense – those known to treat law with impunity have also made it. Moneybags like Bellary baron Anil Lad,whose company was recommended for investigations for illegal mining by the Lokayukta,and film personalities like M H Ambareesh,have thrown tantrums and had their way with tickets.

Some of these decisions call into question the Congress’s commitment to issues like illegal mining raised by the party against the BJP government.

While the Congress coming back to power is still the most likely possibility,the party appears to have again squandered a chance to show it could do things differently.

Johnson is a senior assistant editor based in Bangalore

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