Karnataka Congress leaves it to Sonia to name president


Bangalore : The Karnataka state unit of the Congress Wednesday left it to party president Sonia Gandhi to name its new head after a meeting marred by protests over claims that enrolment of party members was not in order at many places.

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While the protests by a section were on outside the venue here, in the meeting hall too there was grumbling at several leaders not being accommodated on the dais.

Lok Sabha member from Mysore H. Vishwanath protested at senior leaders being left out of the dais and he was supported by several members. He was pacified and later invited to the dais.

Outside the venue, state unit working president D.K. Shivakumar had a hard time in pacifying the crowd angry over what it claimed as irregularities in enrolment of members and nomination to the Karnata Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).

The meeting was held against the backdrop of ‘original Congressmen’ and ‘outsiders dominating the KPCC’. The issue was raised last week by veteran Congressman and former railway minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief.

The incumbent KPCC chief R.V. Deshpande and leader of the Congress opposition in the legislative assembly Siddaramaiah were earlier in the Janata Dal.

Pressure groups formed along caste lines have also been active in the run up to the change in the state party leadership.

Several party leaders led by former KPCC president Allum Veerabhadrappa belonging to the politically dominant Lingayat caste have demanded that the state unit should be headed by a member from their community.

Their argument is that the community, which constitutes about 17 percent of the state’s 60 million population, has been neglected by the Congress and has shifted its support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP is for the first time ruling the state since 2008.