The forthcoming election to the Karnataka Assembly has become a ‘matter of prestige’ for the Congress which has been out of power for almost a decade. Although the term of the incumbent BJP government will end in May, 2013, Congress leaders are busy working out strategies. Party leaders, in batches, are visiting all the 224 Assembly constituencies to meet party workers as well as to consolidate traditional vote bank.
The fact that ruling BJP is in a complete disarray with the infighting and its strong man BS Yeddyurappa deserting it, the Congress sees bright prospects to come back to power. It was evident when Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, during his recent visit to Bangalore, said that no power on earth can stop the Congress from coming to power in Karnataka.
The morale of party workers has been low after the 2008 Assembly polls debacle. It went further down when several MLAs quit the party to join the ruling BJP. Understanding the ground reality, now all senior Congress leaders are on an ‘energy boosting’ mission. While Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah is touring extensively in old Mysore region and a few districts in north Karnataka, Karnataka Pradesh Congress (KPCC) President G Parameshwar is concentrating on Tumkur, Davangere, Chitradurga districts, and Union Labour Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge is covering Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
“Party is ready to face elections anytime. We are holding conventions, conferences and ‘people connect’ programmes to consolidate our position,” Siddaramaiah said. The party is trying to deviate from its previous practice of announcing candidates in the last minute. KPCC President Parameshwar said, “We are requesting the party high command to finalise the candidates at least one month before the announcement of elections, so that candidates have enough time for campaigning. We have asked team of observers and those in-charge of district units to complete the process of shortlisting probable candidates by November 30.” One of the major drawbacks of Congress Party, as observed by a poll analyst, has been lack of unity among leaders. Recently, three senior leaders—Siddaramaiah, Parameshwar and Mallikarjun Kharge—have made separate statements that they are aspirants for CM’s post. Such statements are going to demotivate other leaders.
After former External Affairs Minister SM Krishna came back to Bangalore, Delhi leaders have so far not assigned him any work. However, local Congress leaders are calling on him personally to discuss about what should be the party’s poll strategy for the 2013 Assembly polls. Krishna himself is not sure what role he would be playing to bring the party back to power. “I am yet to assess the situation. I am meeting party leaders to understand the situation and evolve poll strategies,” Krishna said. He is likely to focus on Bangalore which has 28 Assembly seats. Union Minister for Minority Affairs K Rahman Khan said “The party will face polls unitedly, if the high command gives responsibility to Krishna who hails from Mandya, and a strong Vokkaliga leader.” Incidentally, Khan also hails from Mandya. To boost their poll preparation, recently two retired bureaucrats, Ashok Kumar Manoli and S Puttaswamy, have joined the Congress.
- Sunday Standard