Rahul Gandhi squares Mallikajrun Kharge, CM Siddaramaiah poll demands

BENGALURU: Determined to avoid clash of egos and infighting among its own leaders, All India Congress Committee President Rahul Gandhi has done a deft balancing act in finalising the first list of Congress candidates for 218 constituencies.

As serious differences erupted over Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s proposal to allow him to contest from two seats–Chamundeshwari and Badami–which reportedly met with opposition from veteran leader Mallikajrun Kharge and former Chief Minister Veerappa Moily, the Congress supremo concurred with Kharge. Rahul convinced Siddaramaiah to contest in just Chamun deshwari.

According to sources Rahul, after much argument, concurred  with Kharge’s view that allowing Siddaramaiah to contest from two seats would send a wrong message to voters in old Mysuru region. Opposition parties could exploit it as a sign of Congress accepting defeat in old Mysuru region even before the battle has begun.

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However, Rahul who chaired the Congress Central Election Committee meeting has tried to balance the equation by acceding to most of the demands of Siddaramaiah.

All the 7 JD(S) rebel MLAs who joined Congress recently have been given tickets as Siddaramaiah reportedly stood firm on “delivering on his promise to the rebels.” He has succeeded in getting the ticket even for Akhanada Srivnivasamurthy, JD(S) rebel, from Pulikeshinagar. Kharge had strongly batted for Congress aspirant Prasanna Kumar, who has represented the constituency for 4 terms in the past. According to party sources, Prasanna Kumar has been assured of an MLC seat.

Siddaramaiah also has had his way in getting the ticket for Ashok Kheny, the entrepreneur who is under a cloud over the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project, from Bidar South constituency.
He has succeeded in getting a ticket for Transport Minister HM Revanna, to contest against HD Kumaraswamy in Channapatna.

Similarly, Siddaramaiah has also managed to overcome resistance within the party against fielding Anand Singh from Vijayanagar and B Nagendra from Bellary. The two accused in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining had joined Congress from BJP just a couple of months ago.

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