BENGALURU: Hundreds of Congress workers cheered on as BTM Layout MLA Ramalinga Reddy and Dhruvanarayana, who lost the Chamarajanagar Assembly election to BJP’s Sreenivasa Prasad, were sworn in as party working presidents, here on Sunday. With this, the number of working presidents in Congress has increased to five.
The party already had Satish Jarkiholi, Eshwar Khandre and Saleem Ahmed holding the positions. Party sources said this is party’s social engineering strategy in action as Jarkiholi represents the ST category, Khandre the Lingayats, Ahmed the minorities, Reddy the Vokkaligas and Dhruvanarayana the SC Right. When Reddy’s name was proposed for the position, there was opposition from sections of the party as he comes from the larger Vokkaliga community.
The elevation of Dhruvanarayana too has led to murmurs with the SC Left within the party feeling that they don’t have sufficient representation, as Rajya Sabha opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge and former KPCC president Dr G Parameshwara too are SC Right. Joining this disgruntled set are the backward classes, who have been complaining that their leaders don’t hold positions in the top echelons of the party.
Among backward classes, Edigas constitute 4-5 per cent of the population and are in large numbers in Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada Udupi and Shivamogga districts. They are next only to Kurubas in the list of backward communities. Though this section swore by the Congress earlier, it has moved away from the party. Now, there is pressure from this community too to appoint one of their leaders as Congress working president.
Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah, who visited Delhi recently to convince the Congress central leadership about the need to galvanise the backward communities under the Congress umbrella, will lead a party march in Dakshina Kannada on Monday. The aim is to bring backward classes under Congress influence and to win back the district and coastal areas that have gone with the BJP. It is said that Gollas (cowherds), Bestas (fishermen) and other communities too have been seeking representation in the party.