Karnataka: Billava community target Oscar Fernandes over denial of berth

The Billava community with about 9 lakh voters plays an active role in the elections in DK and Udupi districts.

Mangaluru: The exit of Vinay Kumar Sorake from the cabinet and non-inclusion of any other MLA from the community, has left Billava leaders fuming in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.

The Billava community with about 9 lakh voters plays an active role in the elections in DK and Udupi districts. Three MLAs in Udupi and DK- Gopal Poojary, Vasanth Bangera and Vinay Kumar Sorake are from this community. With Sorake dropped, Billava leaders feel that this could lead to an exodus of community members to BJP.

“Of the 13 assembly constituencies in DK and Udupi, Billavas are kingmakers in 10. While BJP is trying its best to woo the Billavas, Congress has completely neglected us. No representation is given to the community in the Cabinet or even in boards and corporations. The result of this negligence will be experienced in the Assembly elections due in two years,” Rastriya Billava Mahamandala spokersperson Harikrishna Bantwal said.

“When there were no MLAs, BJP appointed MLC Kota Srinivas Poojary as minister keeping an eye on community votes. They have succeeded in wooing the community. The negligence shown by Congress will be a death knell for the party in the coastal belt. When Sorake was ousted, the party could have inducted Bangera or Poojary. It was Siddaramaiah who forced Bangera to contest the Assembly election and also assured to make him minister. But he failed to keep the promise. Our community has been totally neglected. In the recent MLC election, I was denied a ticket. Though Congress won that election, the anger of Billava community cost the party in the ZP-TP elections held later,” he said and added that senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes was responsible for this.

“When I approached the Chief Minister and the KPCC chief to get MLC ticket, they had clearly told me that every decision related to Dakshina Kannada and Udupi would be taken by Oscar Fernandes. He is responsible for neglecting Billavas,” he alleged. He added that the community could be pacified if senior leader B Janardhan Poojary was given a post in All India Congress Committee.

‘Party in touch with disgruntled MLAs’
Senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes has said that the party was in touch with annoyed leaders in the state. Congress leaders who were aspirants for the cabinet post and many who were dropped from the cabinet during the reshuffle have openly expressed their unhappiness.

In some places supporters also tried to set buses ablaze. “Party is contacting them (unhappy leaders) and trying to solve the problem. Discontent is common when somebody fail to get the post that he has been aspiring for. However damaging public property is not correct,” Oscar told reporters in Mangaluru on Tuesday.

The former Union minister sounded sarcastic when asked about allegations that he was responsible for neglecting Billava community. When asked why party leaders failed to guide the non performing ministers and make them work in the past three years, Oscar said that he had noticed that the party had given them (ministers) a cue but such things were not revealed to the public.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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