KALABURAGI: With senior Congress Leader Mallikarjun Kharge expressing his displeasure over the induction of businessman and NICE Managing Director Ashok Kheny, the differences between him and CM Siddaramaiah over the selection of candidates for the Assembly seats, especially in the Hyderabad Karnataka region, as well as for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha polls, have come to the fore.
During an interaction with mediapersons here on Sunday, Mr Kharge clarified that he was not consulted on Mr Kheny’s induction into the party. “I don’t know why Mr Kheny has been brought into the Congress. Those leaders who have brought him into the Congress should explain why and what benefit the party will derive from the decision”, Mr Kharge remarked when asked whether the party would benefit.
Mr Kharge’s comments are seen as an indirect attack on Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is said to have given the green signal for Mr Kheny’s induction into the party. What is clear from Mr Kharge’s statements is that he was kept in the dark about the issue and perhaps he would not have given his consent had he been aware of it. Mr Kheny, who represents the Bidar South Assembly seat, may be fielded from the same Assembly seat on a Congress ticket, replacing Mr Chandra Singh, son-in-law of former Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, who was groomed for the seat by the late Chief Minister.
It was also rumoured that the party, considering Mr Kheny's resources, was toying with the idea of fielding him for a Rajya Sabha seat. If the Chief Minister’s camp decides to field Mr Kheny for the Assembly seat considering the strong Lingayat vote base in the constituency, it would be construed as a major setback for the Dharam Singh camp and also for Mr Kharge, as the latter is said to be bent on protecting the interests of his former friend’s ( Dharam Singh) family. “If Mr Kheny replaces Chandra Singh as the Congress candidate, it would mean Mr Kharge has failed to protect the interest of his late friend’s family”, some political leaders commented.
Mr Kharge also expressed his displeasure over the move by the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj H.K. Patil to extend the benefits under Article 371(J) to some villages in Ron and Gadag taluks.
Mr Patil was said to have initiated the step on the ground that these villages were earlier part of Yalburga taluk in Koppal district which was part of the Hyderabad Karnataka region before the reorganistaion of states in 1956. These villages have now become part of Ron and Gadag taluks after the formation of the new Gadag district in 1999.