Bengaluru: With real estate baron and JD (S) candidate B.M. Farookh digging his heels in on the issue of contesting Rajya Sabha polls, leaders of the ruling Congress are stretching every sinew in their attempts to persuade him to pull out and facilitate a smooth sail for three candidates including former Union ministers Oscar Fernandes and Jairam Ramesh.
Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, and energy minister, D. K. Shivakumar, are heading “Operation Vijaypath” to ensure that the Congress wins three of the four vacant Rajya Sabha seats. With five candidates entering the fray, polling seems imminent but these senior leaders have been working overtime to ensure that Mr Farookh either withdraws his nomination papers before Friday or retires in favour of former IPS officer K C Ramamurthy.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader said, “As of now Mr Farookh looks like he is determined to contest the polls, and in no mood to withdraw his candidature.”
The leader said Mr Farookh’s entry had pushed the Congress into a dilemma as the contest between him and the third candidate would be very close but his defeat could trigger a debate whether the party was working against minorities particularly after Mr Siddaramaiah assumed charge as Chief Minister.
“Mr Siddaramaiah always tries to portray himself as leader of AHINDA movement. Therefore, it will be difficult for our leaders to give convincing replies if minorities demand and explanation during the next elections. Mr
Siddaramaiah had tried hard get a ticket for his clansman, Byrathi Suresh, for Hebbal Assembly constituency a couple of months ago. Our central leaders, however, gave the ticket to Rehaman Sharief who lost to BJP’s Y.A. Narayanaswamy. Congress leaders are frantically trying to convince Mr Farookh to withdraw his nomination papers so that the party could avoid being labelled as anti-Muslim,” the leader added.
Meanwhile, sources in the party said veterans like Mr Oscar Fernandes, and Congress leader in Lok Sabha,Mr M. Mallikarjuna Kharge, and former Union minister, M. Veerappa Moily, are likely to join the effort to coax Mr Farookh to withdraw his nomination papers....