BENGALURU: Three-way fights seem to be the order of the day in this election season in Karnataka. While it’s a triangular fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular, to get that magic number to form the government, it now seems that there is a similar triangular fight in the state Congress between the big three—AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, legislative party president Siddaramaiah, and KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar—to get tickets for their followers.
Sources in the AICC told The Sunday Guardian that the Congress high command, which met the top leaders of the state in Delhi, gave approval for only 80 seats as most of them had single-name recommendations. “Around seven sitting MLAs are being asked to sit out for reasons of anti-incumbency and because of the age factor, among other reasons. A total of 185 seats were discussed and it was decided that 135 names with Assembly segments would be announced on 22 March after Rahul Gandhi’s maiden rally for this election in Belgaum. In around 50 to 60 seats, there are two or more aspirants for each constituency. In the majority of them, the aspirants are backed by either DKS, Kharge or Siddaramaiah which has further precipitated the matter. It’s a game of one-upmanship, as each winning MLA will have his own weightage when choosing the CLP (Congress Legislative Party) leader who will eventually go on to become the Chief Minister,” a source said.
The state Congress screening committee met over four consecutive days last week on the outskirts of Bengaluru to finalize the candidates for 170 segments of the 224. “The screening committee was a divided house and the action then shifted to Delhi. The idea was to announce the list from Delhi on Friday; since there was no consensus, the decision of shortlisting the names for the 50 to 60 names was left to the high command,” a source said, adding that winnability, resource mobilization, caste combination, and loyalty are the basic factors that are ruling over or against prospective candidates.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Pradesh president D.K. Shivakumar said: “It is quite natural there is a high demand to get Congress ticket this time since we have a wave in our favour. There is no infighting among the leaders, we are just saying that merit should be the only criterion to get a ticket. Each vote, each seat is important as we are going to see the revival of the Congress in the country. It takes time to build consensus and soon all 224 segments would be announced.”