The Karnataka Congress is witnessing a full blown infighting over ‘parivarwaad’. Several legislators and leaders are up in arms against Karnataka Minister KH Muniyappa and the candidate for the Kolar Lok Sabha seat. Muniyappa was reportedly assured of the Kolar seat for his son-in-law KG Chikka Peddanna by the Congress high command.

Amid these reports, four MLAs and two MLCs from Kolar district, including Karnataka Higher Education Minister Dr MC Sudhakar, have threatened to resign from the membership of the legislature if Muniyappa’s son-in- law is given the ticket. State Congress MLAs KY Nanjegowda, SN Narayanswamy and Kothur G Manjunath are also among those who have threatened to resign.

In fact, two MLCs, Naseer Ahmed and M L Anil Kumar, met the legislative council chairman BS Horatti on Wednesday with their resignation letters in their hands. But Chief Minister Siddaramaiah convinced them not to press for their resignation until he reached Bengaluru from Mysuru. Former Karnataka speaker Ramesh Kumar, who recently lost from the Srinivaspura assembly seat in Kolar, is also against Muniyappa’s demand. Ramesh Kumar and Muniyappa had been at loggerheads since the Assembly elections last year.

The contention of the protesting legislators is that Muniyappa holds a ministerial post and his daughter, Roopakala, is also an MLA. She was also given the chairmanship of a state board recently.

“Giving the Lok Sabha seat also to his son-in-law is too much. We cannot have every member of one family getting so many posts. We are keen on a candidate who hails from the Right Sect of the Scheduled Caste community that constitute 3.8 lakh voters,” one of the dissenting leaders told News18 on the condition of anonymity.

Dr MC Sudhakar, explaining why he offered to resign, said that he had suffered due to the politics played out by Muniyappa and his family. He added that despite being a five time MLA, Sudhakar’s father had to face the brunt of his politics.

“I was also troubled and I had appealed to the party high command time and again. This gentleman (Muniyappa) was an MP and a central minister, our words were not respected. I have no issues with the party high command. I have the highest regard, yet his word was taken and not ours,” the state minister alleged. He added that Muniyappa would “encourage dissidence in the constituency.”

“He would align with my opponents, with all these things, I got fed up and offered to leave the party. Though I was offered a ticket twice, I refused and contested as an Independent. The pain I have gone through cannot be expressed,” the Karnataka minister said.

One may recall that in the 2019 parliamentary elections, the same group of dissenting Congress leaders had teamed together to directly work against KH Muniyappa while extending their support to then sitting MP S Muniswamy. This led to Muniyappa’s defeat, the first in his political career.

Another MLA, Manjunath, told News18, “We are not going to accept any pressure tactics from KH Muniyappa. The party has given him enough and we should work for the party and not for a family.”

Minister Muniyappa and his son-in-law hail from the Left Sect of the Scheduled Caste. The rebellion in the Congress is linked to the internal dynamics within the Dalit community in the state. The scheduled castes in Karnataka are divided into Dalit Right and Dalit Left sects. The protesting Congress leaders and MLAs want a candidate from the Dalit Right to be given a ticket this time from Kolar .

There are more than 4 lakh SC (Right) voters in Kolar district and the community needs representation, say leaders from the party. They have suggested the name of SC (Right) leader CM Muniyappa as the ‘rightful’ aspirant for the Kolar Lok Sabha seat. Another name that is being pitched for the same seat is that of former Rajya Sabha MP L Hanumanthaiah.

Incidentally, the Left Sect is larger in number in the Gulbarga constituency where Radhakrishna Doddamani, son-in-law of AICC president Mallikarjuna Kharge is the party candidate and KH Muniyappa is said to have a better connect with the SC (Left) voters.

Hectic negotiations have been taking place since the developments and the Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his troubleshooter colleague DK Shivakumar are expected to meet the MLAS later today to iron out differences and address their concerns. A late night meeting of the disgruntled legislators with CM Siddaramaiah did not take place as he was in Mysuru.

“I will call and speak to the leaders. This happens in politics. I will meet the Kolar leaders this evening. I will speak to them when I reach Bangalore,” Siddaramaiah said on Thursday.

“No one will give resignation, there’s a pressure from their side. The ticket has not been announced yet, we will take a decision this evening. The party will work on winning the first seat, we will work together. Congress party will not give prominence for any individual’s prestige,” DK Shivakumar said.

“Whatever the Congress party decides, I will abide by it. When they (dissenting MLAs) defected, I appealed to the high command. Yet they were taken back into the party and given ministries. Still, I stood by the party as I wanted the Congress to form the government and save the people of this state. I kept quiet. And now I will abide by whatever the high command decides,” said Minister Muniyappa.

Muniyappa has previously served as a member of the Lok Sabha for nearly three decades representing the Kolar Lok Sabha constituency. He was also a union minister in both UPA governments and held important portfolios like Railways and Transport at the time. He recently won from the Devanahalli assembly constituency, having lost the 2019 LS polls.

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