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Rahul Gandhi faces tricky ticket test in Karnataka

Karnataka Chief Minister K. Siddaramaiah’s plan to vacate his assembly seat for his son has landed Rahul in a tricky situation.

Published: 08th April 2018 09:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th April 2018 09:25 AM   |  A+A-

Rahul Gandhi with Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah in Shimoga | PTI

NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi had recently assured party workers that they will get preference over paradroppers in ticket distribution. But Karnataka Chief Minister K. Siddaramaiah’s plan to vacate his assembly seat for his son has landed Rahul in a tricky situation.Siddaramaiah, who won from Varuna assembly constituency in 2008 and 2013, has announced that he will shift to Chamundeshwari, which propelled his political career in 1983. 

Siddaramaiah represented Chamundeswari five times till he moved to Varuna in 2008. Having made an emotional appeal to the voters of Chamundeshwari in his home town Mysuru that this was his last election, the CM plans to launch his son Yatheendra from Varuna.The contest in Varuna seat is becoming significant as the BJP plans to field its chief ministerial nominee BS Yeddyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra from there.With Siddaramaiah holding fort against an aggressive BJP, Rahul will have to take a call on this delicate matter, said party insiders, acknowledging that each seat will count in a tightly-contested poll.

Rahul is expected to chair a meeting of the party’s Central Election Committee that will finalise the candidates next week. Before that, Madhusudan Mistry, who heads the AICC screening committee for Karnataka, will clear the probable candidates suggested by the state unit.Whether Rahul upholds the assurance he gave to party workers at the Congress plenary session last month or makes adjustments for the sake of political expediency will be watched keenly within the party, sources said. Citing the case of Gujarat elections, Rahul had said whenever party workers were given tickets, they felt empowered and gave a tough fight to the BJP. 

However, Rahul cannot afford to annoy the CM, given the high-stake polls in the only big state the Congress holds at present. Despite an internal assessment that the Congress has an edge in Karnataka, party insiders said any complacency could prove counter-productive.Sources said Siddaramaiah was able to push his nominees for the three Rajya Sabha seats from the state on the argument that outsiders getting preference over natives would hurt the Congress in the Assembly polls. 

Though party strategists deny any infighting in the state unit, the situation is not ideal, the sources said. As the CM takes on the BJP brass, state Congress chief G Parameshwara, along with two working presidents —Dinesh Gundu Rao and SR Patil — are doing a fine balancing act.



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