Bengaluru: In a sign that the Congress was finally taking C.K. Jaffer Sharief's rebellion seriously, there were unconfirmed reports the KPCC chief Dr G Parameshwar had reached out to the six time MP, as had several senior Congress leaders from Delhi. But the icing on the cake was an hour long visit by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah that quickly turned to ashes when Mr Sharief summarily dismissed the offer of a Rajya Sabha seat as too little, too late.
Mr Sharief was overlooked for Bangalore Central allocated to Rahul Gandhi's blue-eyed boy, the Youth Congress leader Rizwan Arshad. An angry Sharief refused to be pinned down on whether he would stay on in the Congress or not, telling Siddaramaiah that the only person with whom he was willing to discuss his decision was UPA chairperson and Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, knowing full well that Mrs Gandhi was unlikely to make such a call.
Not only is the Congress reportedly worried over the splintering of the Muslim vote, which has traditionally gone to the Congress, it is concerned over the signal Mr Jaffer Sharief's defection will send to the minority votes across the Old Mysore region. For Mr Deve Gowda, drawing Sharief into the JD(S), helps Vokkaligas to end the alienation of the minorities towards his party over a closet alliance with the BJP in the 2013 bypolls.
In a significant development, Congress MLA from Mysore, Tanvir Sait, met Mr Sharief. He told reporters that the party would strive hard to retain Mr Sharief in the party.
As the chief minister was leaving Mr Sharief's home, he was at his cryptic best. "When chief minister, Siddaramaiah comes to my residence it is my duty to receive him and show respect to him," Mr Sharief said, while saying he would continue to fight to retain the Muslim identity of the Amanath Bank issue.
Sharief, has now promised JD(S) go-between Zameer Ahmed Khan, that he would make the announcement to join the Janata Dal (S) on March 19th from Saudi Arabia where he is heading to perform Umra, the pilgrimage....