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Rebellion, in fact, began brewing in the party ranks even as the list was made public, with several aspirants hitting the road in open defiance of the leadership across the state.
Voices of dissent were heard from Hangal, Mayakonda, Jagalur, Tiptur, Kunigal, Kolar, Kollegal, Belur, Badami, Kittur and many other constituencies.
Supporters of former excise minister Manohar Tahsildhar, who currently represents Hangal, staged a protest over denial of the party ticket to their leader. Incumbent Jagalur MLA H P Rajesh rushed to Bengaluru late Sunday night to meet chief minister Siddaramaiah, after his name failed to figure on the list. Supporters of fivetime MLA D B Inamdar were also up in arms with the party holding the candidate’s name for Kittur; the high command is reportedly toying with the idea of fielding his relative, Babasaheb Patil.
On Saturday, senior leader P Ramesh, who had unsuccessfully contested from CV Raman Nagar in Bengaluru in the 2013 election, announced his decision to contest from the same seat as a JD(S) candidate. “This is not Indira Gandhi’s Congress. This is Siddaramaiah’s Tughlaq Congress,” he alleged.
Siddaramaiah had asked him to give up his candidature to make way for mayor R Sampath Raj. Ironically, the fresh rebellion in the party is a manifestation of rivalry between senior party leaders, including Mallikarjuna M Kharge and D K Shivakumar who missed no opportunity to settle scores with one another, party sources said.
Some aspirants who missed the bus also called Siddaramaiah a dictator, while expressing anger over the ticket to Bidar South MLA Ashok Kheny and rebel JD(S) MLAs who they dubbed “outsiders”.
Miffed with the party leadership, many workers have decided to contest as independent candidates. The Congress leadership is expected to send senior leaders to these districts on a troubleshooting mission. The party has time until April 27 to convince the rebels not to upset the official candidates’ applecart.
On the other hand, the BJP is still fighting to douse rebellion after it released its first list of 72 candidates.