On Himachal high, Congress steps up Karnataka campaign


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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, December 12: Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday went in a huddle with the Karnataka unit of the party leaders in a bid to build momentum after the victory in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. Kharge is learnt to be keen for Karnataka Congress leaders to keep their aspirations aide and begin working for the election campaign in the state, slated to go to the polls around April next year.

Sources said that Kharge wants to make a personal stamp on Congress’ Karnataka campaign and tame the feuding factions in the party unit. Top Congress leadership is also learnt to have taken grim view of the open faction fighting in the Karnataka unit, as at least three top leaders are openly building planks for their Chief Ministerial bids.

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, state unit Congress chief DK Shivkumar and the party’s campaign committee chairman MB Patil are seen in the party circle with the chief ministerial aspirations. On the similar pattern, Congress also had at least three chief ministerial claimants in Himachal Pradesh among Pratibha Singh, state unit chief of the party, Mukesh Agnihotri, leader of the Opposition in the last Assembly, and Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, the campaign committee chairman. But Congress by picking up Sukhu for the CM post made it clear that the party will accord high priority to the organization than legacy.

Siddaramaiah has already turned 75 years of age. But he’s still hoping that the party will back him for the CM post if Congress wins next year’s Assembly elections. He has been the OBC face of Congress in Karnataka. Shivkumar is a Vokkaliga, and he’s known to have a strong financial muscle in the state. He has also bene facing investigations by the Enforcement Directorate. Patil is more ambitious, as he’s learnt to be pushing for his Lingayata credentials within the party unit to make his bid for the CM post.

Sources said that unlike Gujarat where party’s former chief Rahul Gandhi made a cameo appearance, Congress will go aggressive in Karnataka campaign. Congress is already approaching the state Assembly elections with sub-regional poll promises, with similar themes as seen in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh being repeated, which includes the likes of one lakh jobs, Old Pension Scheme, opening new medical, engineering colleges, AIIMS, etc.

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