Hubballi: The speculation over the Congress candidate for Dharwad has ended with the party deciding to field former minister, Vinay Kulkarni from the constituency this Lok Sabha poll.
A confidante of former Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, Mr Kulkarni had led the Lingayat movement and was a strong contender for the party ticket. Aware that Congress leaders in the state had recommended former MP, I G Sanadi’s son, Shakir Sanadi and Sadanand Danganavar, a loyalist of KPCC president, Dinesh Gundu Rao for Dharwad, he had lobbied hard for the ticket in New Delhi for nearly a week before managing to beat the competition.
The next challenge for him will be to win over the Muslim voters of the constituency as the community leaders are unhappy at the party ignoring their claim to the Dharwad ticket and fielding him instead. They had hoped Mr Shakir Sanadi would be fielded from the constituency after Mr D R Patil was given the ticket from Haveri, dashing their hopes of a ticket from that constituency.
The Muslims are miffed that their party has now got representation only in Bengaluru Central and have warned the Congress of a backlash from the community, leaving Mr Kulkarni with the uphill task of winning them over in Dharwad.
Many local Congress leaders too had lobbied against him for various reasons, especially using the recent building collapse in Dharwad that claimed 19 lives as his father-in-law is one of the owners of the building and a co-accused in the case filed by the police in the matter. His fate may well depend on how well he is be able to weather these twin challenges....