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Sunday, December 15, 2019


Splits Showing


With Lok Sabha elections on the anvil, both the Congress and BJP are battling heavyweight ticket aspirations, reports Suprabha NK
N K SUPRABHA | Issue Dated: March 2, 2014, New Delhi
Tags : Shadi Bhagya Scheme | C K Jaffer Sharief | Amanath Co-operative Bank |

The Karnataka Congress may be leaving no stone unturned to appease the Muslim community with sops like the controversial Shadi Bhagya scheme for women or the recent budget announcement which earmarked Rs 800 crore for the department of minority welfare, Haj and Wakf board but community leaders want more – mere welfare schemes are not enough – they now aspire for additional representation and empowerment.

The Congress, which came back to power after a nine-year-old long hiatus with firm backing of the Muslim vote, has to now satisfy community leaders who are demanding more tickets for the Lok Sabha elections.

At the centre of his divide is the rift between two Karnataka Congress heavyweights, former union minister C K Jaffer Sharief and minister of minority affairs K Rahman Khan. When two prominent leaders of the ruling party are not on good terms, the community too remains divided.

The two most recently clashed, a bitter fight, over irregularities in the Amanath Cooperative Bank case and now studiously avoid each other. RBI inspection reports and audit reports conducted by the directorate of cooperative audit from 2003 to 2009 indicate that Khan, who stepped down as president of the Amanath Co-operative Bank in 2002, together with nine other former directors and several bank officials caused a loss of Rs 102.03 crore to the bank. The charges are wide ranging: besides siphoning off crores through creating fictitious accounts, hundreds of crores were given in loans to concerns and companies in which Khan’s relatives and other directors had direct investments - in direct contravention of RBI norms. Unjustifiable concessions in repayment of principal and interest on loans, and overdrafts, were given to firms belonging to Khan’s wife, sons and son-in-law, as well as relatives of other directors.

But Khan has stoutly denied any involvement and claimed instead that the registrar of co-operative society's order to prosecute him was politically motivated and the reports ‘concocted’. “It is all political. I am founder of the bank. In 25 years, I turned the bank from a Rs 3 lakh entity into a scheduled bank. By any stretch of imagination, can anyone say that I want to kill that bank,” he queries incredulously.

The relationship between the two leaders – never good at the best of times - strained even further after Jafer Sharief demanded a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the bank. Many honest brokers within the community tried to arrange a truce but Khan refused to oblige.

With both avoiding each other, the prospects of Lok Sabha tickets for the community is getting affected as there is no single acceptable voice leading the demand. According to well place sources, leaders of the community are demanding one reserved seat each for the community in all four revenue divisions, Mysore, Belgaum, Gulbarga and Bangalore.

The Karnataka Pradesh Congress committee’s (KPCC) election panel has recommended that the party high command give two seats to Muslims and one to a Christian candidate under the minorities’ quota. But the Muslim community wants least three Lok Sabha seats.

Senior party leaders from the community met Rahman Khan recently and demanded that the party high command give at least three, if not four party tickets to representatives of the community.

Municipal administration minister Qamarul Islam, information minister R Roshan Baig, several MLAs including Tanvir Rait, and others took part in the meeting along with former union ministers C K Jaffer Sharief and C M Ibrahim. But the arranged meeting between Sharief and Khan was cancelled twice resulting in worried faces for ticket seekers. Apart from their proposed four Lok Sabha seats, community leaders have also demanded that they be appointed heads of various state government boards and corporations.

Their additional fear is that the party may not give the ticket to their chosen member from the Bangalore Central Lok Sabha constituency. Senior Congressman and top Muslim leaders in the state have backed CK Jaffer Sharief for that A group of senior leaders have unanimously agreed that the community support Sharief’s candidature. They have been entrusted the responsibility of impressing the party high command, chief minister Siddaramaiah and KPCC president G Parameshwara to seal the decision in the veteran Congress man’s favour.

The big trouble with Sharief is that at 80-plus, he may not get the ticket if the party adheres to vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s thumb rule that those above 80 should not be fielded for the Lok Sabha elections. From the community, state youth Congress president Rizwan Arshad is tough competitor for Sharief at Bangalore Central. Former MP H T Sangliana and ex-minister J Alexander are other aspirants.

Muslim leaders’ backing Sharief is seen as a setback for Arshad’s aspirations. Some Congress politicians fear that some of them may unite and work against Arshad in the event of Sharief missing out the race. The advantage community leaders see in Sharief contesting is that JD(S), who can play spoilsport in this constituency, may not field its candidate as the former union minister shares a good rapport with JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda.
The fight between the two Congress titans has clearly thrown a spanner in the works revealing how tenuous the so-called Muslim vote bank is.

  Divided House

Too many BJP leaders are looking for safe constituencies

After losing to the Congress in the assembly elections, the BJP is ready for a second scrap with its arch rival but is yet to finalise its list of candidates as top leaders are fighting each other to select ‘safe’ constituencies.

The list ought to have been finalized by mid-February. There are sticking points like a suitable candidate for the Bangalore North seat - there are too many BJP aspirants. Former chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and ex-deputy chief minister R. Ashok are competing for this constituency. Similar sentiments have ben expressed by former minister Shobha Karandlaje. Ashok is now facing stiff competition from Shobha, who reportedly has the backing of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, a recent returnee to the party fold.

Insiders say last week Sadananda Gowda had emerged as the natural choice with Ashok virtually withdrawing from the contest. However, former union minister and national general secretary Ananth Kumar reportedly favoured Ashok’s candidature at a central meeting of party leaders held in Delhi recently. After a standoff with Ashoka and Ananth Kumar at the meeting, Gowda appears to be upset with his predecessor Yeddyurappa for his lack of vocal support. Gowda is said to have told his close circles that despite being in the front line of those who took up the cause of Yeddyurappa’s return to the party, he had not got adequate backing.

During the meeting of BJP core committee members last week to decide candidates for a few constituencies, including three segments in Bangalore, Yeddyurappa remained silent even as Gowda demanded that his candidature be considered for Bangalore North. Party sources said that there is also a possibility of the seat going to a dark horse if the tussle between the two intensifies. Though Ashok has started making his presence felt in the constituency by attending programmes, a senior leader said the party is yet to finalise the candidate for this seat.
Despite differences among top state BJP leaders, state party chief Prahlad Joshi termed it ‘a small confusion’. “There is no fight. The whole thing has been blown out of all proportions. Small confusions like these may happen but they far from reflect a divided house,” he is reported to have told journalists. Central BJP leaders too have played down this rift. They say that Narendra Modi's popularity is such that people are lining up to get tickets everywhere.


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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017