The Congress which was confident of sweeping the polls till recently is now talking of getting somewhere close to the magic cut-off. Most Congressmen think they will get from 105 to 110 seats.
The change in stance has come about due to some weak candidates in the fray. Their selection is attributed to miscalculation and match fixing. The assessment by a senior AICC leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, is that the Congress has chosen “weak candidates” in at least 40 constituencies.
According to him, the leaders deliberately fielded weak candidates in some constituencies in a quid pro quo with opposing parties. “It is a quid pro quo between Congress leaders and a few ‘strong’ leaders from the JD(S) and the BJP to field weak candidates against each other to ensure their own victory. If Congress puts up weak candidates against them and helps them win, they will help the state leaders in turn,’’ he explained.
Apart from self-preservation, there is a larger design, the AICC leader said. “One of the chief ministerial contenders wants the KJP to get a few more seats, while another is expecting the JD(S) to do well. These leaders feel that they can become the CM by aligning with their respective supporters in the KJP and the JD(S).”
The Congress has fielded weak candidates against heavyweights like Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar in Hubli-Dharwad Central, Anitha Kumaraswamy in Chennapattana, Umesh Katti in Hukkeri, C M Udasi in Hangal and Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok in Padmananbhanagar.
Denying the ticket to sitting MLA Dr M C Sudhakar in Chintamani is a classic example. Again in Surpur, it denied the ticket to local strongman Narasimha Naik to accommodate a candidate supported by a senior leader from the region.
There are also complaints that several senior leaders were vindictively denied tickets for complaining against the state leadership. “For the first time, I feel that my party has been mortgaged,’’ the AICC leader said.
Sources in the Congress pointed out that in districts like Kolar, Mandya and Hassan, Congress leaders are working day in and day out to defeat their own candidates.
The Sunday Standard