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Congress begins selection process for new Karnataka party chief

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-05-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: K.C. Venugopal, the new Karnataka in-charge and general secretary of the Congress party, arrived in Bengaluru on Monday and began the process of selecting the new president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), who will lead the party to assembly polls due next year.

Lobbying by potential candidates for the KPCC president’s post has intensified, with many reaching out directly to the party high command in a bid to bypass local leaders opposed to their candidature.

Venugopal said that he and his team will carry out discussions with all stakeholders and share more details at the end of the three-day visit.

Venugopal and three other secretaries from the All India Congress Committee (AICC) will meet district-level office bearers, state legislators, local leaders and members of Parliament on Tuesday before holding discussions with chief minister Siddaramaiah and other senior state leaders on Wednesday, an official from the party said.

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Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had asked Venugopal to examine the issues facing the party in the state and submit a report to the high command, Press Trust of India reported.

Energy minister D.K. Shivakumar and water minister M.B. Patil are considered front runners by many in the party. Other contenders include former Karnataka IT/BT minister S.R.Patil, a former minister of state for railways K.H. Muniyappa and current working president Dinesh Gundu Rao. The party has also not ruled out incumbent president and home minister G. Parameshwar’s term being extended.

Siddaramaiah is pushing for a candidate of his choice in an attempt to consolidate his hold on the party, especially after leading it to a thumping victory in byelections to the assembly seats of Nanjangud and Gundlupet, a senior office bearer of the party said, requesting not to be named.

The Congress in Karnataka has been facing dissent. Former chief minister and veteran Congress leader S.M. Krishna cut his ties with the party in January after nearly five decades and joined the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) complaining of being sidelined.

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