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Influx of leaders to Congress makes party loyalists jittery

Monday, 19 November 2012 - 10:34am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: dna

Retired IAS officers S Puttaswamy & Ashok Kumar Manoli to be inducted into party today; Shankar Bidari supposed to join soon. Old-timers apprehensive of being sidelined.

The imminent split in the BJP with the impending departure of former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa seems to have instilled a sense of a pro-Congress breeze ahead of the assembly elections.

The party is faced with a long queue of leaders from other political parties and even retired bureaucrats lining up to join the organisation. The party is inducting retired IAS officers S Puttaswamy and Ashok Kumar Manoli into the party on Monday at former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s birthday programme in Bangalore.

However, the rush to join the Congress has put the party leadership in a fix as the influx of the outsiders is evoking strong resistance from Congress MLAs, ticket aspirants, and officebearers at the district and taluk levels.

The induction of S Puttaswamy too had run into rough weather over the past several weeks as Congress MLA from Arakalagudu in Hassan district, A Manju, had strongly opposed his induction, fearing that the party would field Puttaswamy from Arakalagudu in the forthcoming assembly elections.

According to Congress sources, Puttaswamy is being admitted only after holding talks with Manju and convincing him that his political interests will not be harmed. “We have convinced Manju that Puttaswamy would not be made the candidate for Arakalagudu constituency in the next assembly elections,” sources said.

Speaking to DNA, Manju said he has no objections to Puttaswamy’s entry into the party. However, he refused to speak anything about the conditions on which Puttaswamy is being inducted into the party. “The party state president knows it better. There are definitely clear-cut conditions on rewarding any new entrant into the party. I would not like to speak about it,” Manju said.

The party is also bullish on the probable entry of former top cop of the state, Shankar Bidari. “KPCC president G Parameshwar has had one round of talks with Bidari and we are confident of his entry very soon,” sources said.

There is a long list of MLAs from the BJP and the JD(S) who are eager to join the Congress. But the party leaders are reluctant to reveal their names “as it is premature to name them at this stage,” said a general secretary in the KPCC.

“Even a few ministers in the Jagadish Shettar government, including V Somanna and BN Bache Gowda, have made overtures towards the Congress and a clear picture about influx from the BJP will emerge after the launch of the Karnataka Janata Party by former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa on December 9.

Fifteen BJP MLAs have shown interest to join the Congress. Similarly, many JD(S) legislators too are eager to join the Congress. JD(S) MLA from Shravanabelagola, CS Putte Gowda and former legislator HM Vishwanath have already had talks with Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and SM Krishna,” sources said.

The influx could turn into a flood as the elections approach and it has already made many Congress MLAs and ticket aspirants jittery as they fear that the new immigrants would be preferred over the Congress old-timers in giving party tickets to contest the assembly elections.

“Pressure is already mounting from many constituencies against giving special treatment to the immigrants. The Congress leadership is being pressured not to give any assurances to new entrants. KPCC president G Parameshwar and other senior leaders have assured that outsiders would be inducted only after taking local Congress leaders into confidence and also a thorough discussion with the party high command,” party sources said.

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