Congress first list likely before Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Belagavi

Congress president M. Mallikarjun Kharge and other leaders during the AICC Central Election Committee meeting for the Karnataka Assembly elections, in New Delhi on Friday.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Amid lobbying by its leaders for higher political representation for their communities, the AICC Central Election Committee (CEC) on Friday held its first meeting in the national capital to pick candidates for the Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections.

The CEC meeting chaired by AICC president M. Mallikarjun Kharge and attended by Rahul Gandhi, MP, held deliberations on candidates recommended by the party’s screening committee chairman Mohan Prakash.

The Congress is expected to release its first list of candidates before Mr. Gandhi’s visit to Belagavi on March 20 for campaigning.

Sources in the party told The Hindu that a list of candidates for 125 constituencies had almost been finalised. The screening committee had recommended dropping incumbent MLAs in three or four constituencies owing to anti-incumbency in those segments.

Among the MLCs who are aspirants, only U.B. Venkatesh would be given the ticket to contest from Basavanagudi constituency in Bengaluru city, sources said.

Leaders of Lingayat, Dalit, OBCs, and Muslim communities have called on Mr. Kharge in Delhi demanding higher representation for their respective community/castes.

The All-India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, led by its chairman Shamanur Shivashankarappa, met Mr. Kharge in New Delhi on Wednesday and demanded that 60 seats be given to the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community. In 2018, the community had been given ticket by the Congress in 43 constituencies and its candidates won in 18 seats.

The KPCC Minority Department has demanded ticket for 21 Muslim candidates. The community has six MLAs in the 15th Assembly.

Among those present at the Friday’s meeting were AICC general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council B.K. Hariprasad, the former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily, the former KPCC president G. Parameshwara, AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal, and Mr. Mohan Prakash.

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