State Leaders’ RaGa Not Without Reason - The New Indian Express

State Leaders’ RaGa Not Without Reason

Published: 17th January 2014 10:36 AM

Last Updated: 17th January 2014 11:03 AM

Many Congress leaders in Karnataka are inviting the party’s heir apparent Rahul Gandhi to contest from their turf, but that’s mostly because they want to torpedo the chances of their rivals within the party.

Party factions in Udupi-Chikmagalur, Mandya, Koppal and even Mysore are saying that they can offer Rahul a surefire victory. In fact, sitting Lok Sabha member H Vishwanath is the latest to join the chorus by offering to make way for the Congress prince if he desires to contest from Mysore.

Open House

The Congress phenomenon of extending unconditional hospitality to the Gandhi family is not new. Rahul’s grandmother has contested and won from Chikmagalur. In 2009, leaders here urged Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra to contest from the same seat, now called the Chikamgalur-Udupi seat.

A senior Congress functionary said, “This is just an effort to grab attention at election time. Our leaders should stop making such silly statements when Rahul hasn’t expressed his keenness to contest from here.’’

Rifts within the district units also motivate leaders to float Rahul’s name. For example, the Mandya unit is so divided that its top leaders don’t see eye-to-eye. One group just doesn’t want Ramya, the current MP, to be given a ticket again. District party president Atmananda first invited former chief minister S M Krishna to contest from Mandya and then floated the idea that Rahul might contest from there. “We are going to discuss the issue in Delhi,” he said. But no one took him seriously. Many state leaders had no clue what he was talking about.

In Mysore, actor and Housing Minister M H Ambareesh is trying to win over Pramoda Devi, wife of the late prince Srikantadatta Wadiyar, to contest on a Congress ticket. Vishwanath had no problems in first inviting her and later announcing he would be more than willing to give up his seat for Rahul.

Reacting to the unprovoked invitations, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Rahul was a youth icon and had the calibre to win from anywhere in the country.

Political analyst and columnist Satya believes the invitations are intended to make a public display of loyalty to the dynasty. 

“It is nothing but sycophancy,’’ he said. Another long shot for Congressmen is that Rahul might become close to them if they help him win from their constituency.

BJP spokesperson S Suresh Kumar is scathing about the practice. “They are just continuing the legacy of equating India with Indira and Indira with India. This also clearly indicates that the party is bereft of leaders,’’ he told Express (He was referring to Indira Gandhi, Rahul’s grandmother).

On a similar effort by the BJP to project Narendra Modi, Kumar said, “He is a tried, tested and trusted leader,  and not a son or grandson of someone.’’

Karnataka has a long history of high-profile leaders from outside the State contesting Lok Sabha elections from here. Perhaps the best-known such election was the one in Chikmagalur: it gave political rebirth to a defeated Indira Gandhi. AICC president Sonia Gandhi has also contested from Bellary and won. However, she gave up her seat to retain Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The first outsider to contest LS polls from Karnataka, however, was former Uttar Pradesh Congress president Ajit Prasad Jain.

After losing elections from Kairana in his state, he was fielded by the Congress from Tumkur in 1962, and won.

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