Desperate to win back the Lingayat votebank, the state Congress leadership is trying to net well known faces from the community into the party. KPCC president G Parameshwar had a breakfast meeting with retired DG & IGP Shankar Bidari on Wednesday, giving further credence to speculations of former super cop joining the Congress soon.
Though both dismissed anything political about the meeting, rumours are rife that Bidari has shown interest in joining Congress. Parameshwar called on Bidari on Wednesday morning at his residence in BTM Layout. The breakfast meeting lasted close to an hour. Sources explain that, Bidari, a Lingayat is being wooed as he is said to be close to former union home minister Shivaraj Patil.
It is said that Bidari had prepared the ground for his political entry long ago and evinced an interest to join Congress.
State Congress, which is exploring every means to regain its base in the Lingayat belt of northern Karnataka, is looking out for netting prominent personalities from the community ahead of the assembly elections. Bidari, who hails from Bijapur, has earned a name as a bold and gritty police officer, commanding respect not only within his community, but even beyond.
Bidari’s daughter Vijayalakshmi Bidari, son-in-law Prasanna are civil servants, serving as IAS and IPS officers respectively. His son Vijayendra Bidari is also an IPS officer serving in Rajasthan. The clout Bidari enjoys among the IAS/IPS officers has made him more powerful.
Sources also confirm that Bidari will contest from any one of the assembly constituencies of Bijapur district from Congress party or will contest the Lok Sabha election from the same district. Party leaders are hopeful that Bidari will be able to woo the Lingayat votes to Congress party.
When contacted, Parameshwar maintained that they did not discuss politics at the meeting. “I wanted to congratulate Bidari for getting Basavashree award. I could not attend the award presentation function at Chitradurga. He was an efficient and honest police officer,” Parameshwar maintained.
Bidari, who refused to speak to the media about the breakfast meeting, stated that if and when he joins politics he would let everyone know. “This meeting was not political,” he clarified.
Sources also explain that the party leaders are working to get back influential Lingayat leaders from North Karnataka region.
A senior Congress leader supporting the efforts to woo Bidari, told DNA that though the party has Shamnur Shivashankarappa, Rani Satish and M V Rajashekaran among some of the senior leaders from Lingayat community, they are not mass leaders. “They cannot get the consolidated community votes as they never identified with the community.”