The Congress list of candidates in Karnataka is full of senior party leaders such as Congress general secretary Veerappa Moily, Margaret Alva, CK Jaffer Sharief, state leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge, former chief minister Dharam Singh et al.
What has escaped notice is the younger lot of candidates who are now being touted as the “Rahul Gandhi” layer of young leadership in the state.
Leading the pack of this young brigade is 36-year-old Krishna Byre Gowda, who has taken on BJP leader Ananth Kumar in the Bangalore South seat. Gowda is two-time MLA and was handpicked by Rahul after spending time with him on his discovery of India tour.
“He drove around Rahul Gandhi and was his interpreter for the Karnataka leg of Gandhi’s tour,” said a top Congress source.
The candidate himself is a little bashful with all the attention he is getting. “We are better organised than the assembly polls, and certainly Mr Rahul Gandhi has been serious about getting younger leadership into the party,” Gowda said.
There are three other candidates out of the 28 seats in the state where Rahul Gandhi has decisively intervened in favour of younger leaders. The candidates include R Dhruvanarayana, an MLA and candidate from Chamrajnagar, who is expected to be on a strong wicket since former deputy chief minister Sidhharamaiah is backing his candidacy.
B Thippeswamy, the district youth congress president has been fielded from the reserved Chitradurga constituency.
“Have you ever heard of a district Congress president getting a ticket? In all my years in the Congress, I haven’t heard of it,” said a senior Congress leader.
While the BJP is putting up a really tough fight in Chitradurga, considered a Congress bastion, Thipeeswamy’s candidature is being seen as an important symbolic milestone for the top heavy party.
The almost-50 Salim Ahmad, who is fighting from Haveri, may not conform to some people’s idea of a young leader, but youth is a long-held age in the Congress, with people ranging from their 30s to their 50s coming in this bracket.
“In Congress, he is considered a young leader,” said a silver haired Congress veteran with a laugh.
With a judicious mix of young and old, the Congress hopes to combat the superbly organised, cash-rich BJP.