Written by – Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi
In two Southern states, the Congress is in a predatory mood to snare opposition leaders to strengthen itself ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections, and incidentally, in both Karnataka and Telangana, there is a common factor – KPCC chief and deputy Karnataka Chief Minister DK Shivakumar.
But more interesting is the aggressive role of the Congress in Telangana, considered down and out after regional chieftain and Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao weaned away victorious MLAs from the Congress after the last assembly elections. Even more interesting is the response to Congress moves as leaders from both ruling BRS and the BJP are looking to the Congress favourably.
For sure, many disgruntled BRS leaders are eyeing the Congress which is yet to finalise tickets for the Telangana assembly polls scheduled to be held before December along with Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram. According to Congress sources in Telangana, as many as 30 leaders from both BRS and BJP – from sitting and ex-MPs and MLAs – would be joining the Congress during the first week of next month.
The Congress, which has set the process of candidate selection in motion is expected to be coming out with its first list on October 9 and this explains the buzz.
Incidentally, recent opinion polls put the Congress in a more favourable position and now the fight in Telangana is between the ruling BRS and the Congress with the BJP losing ground significantly.
It may be recalled that the Congress national leadership had entrusted the Telangana poll strategy to DK Shivakumar, and sources say that his hand is seen in a few predatory moves in the state. He had visited Telangana a few weeks ago and is said to have held parleys with local Congress leaders in the state.
But closer home in Karnataka, Shivakumar has sounded a warning to both the BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) to guard their respective leaders as he was on the prowl to poach them ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The situation in the two parties, the Congress sources said, was ripe for pickings as many JD(S) leaders at the district levels were unhappy over the tie-up with the BJP for Lok Sabha elections.
Already, many district leaders from the minority community in the Janata Dal (S) have quit the party and have joined the Congress.
Right now, the focus of Congress and its operation Hasta is on the JD (S), and among the leaders considered sure to join the Congress are a few ex-MLAs. Incidentally, even Chief Minister S Siddaramaiah and former Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar, who quit BJP to join the Congress ahead of the assembly elections, are talking to potential turncoats in the two parties.
Incidentally, after the JD (S) tied up its electoral alliance with the BJP last week, a few JD (S) leaders including state vice president Shafiullah and JDS media spokesperson quit the party and joined the Congress.