Home / Politics / Policy /  Lok Sabha polls: Rebels may dent Congress chances in Karnataka

Bengaluru: The Congress’s decision to nominate 37 of its legislators for various roles in the Karnataka cabinet, as heads of boards and corporations and parliamentary secretaries, may not help contain growing dissidence within its ranks, analysts and political leaders said.

The party’s decision to ignore senior leaders and reward “troublemakers" with cabinet berths due to “political compulsions", has not gone down well with many veterans, and is likely to have an impact on the preparations for next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

Though the party appears to be on a firm footing after the November bypoll victories, disgruntled leaders could dent the Congress’s chances in the state. “We can’t remain quiet for being treated like this," said a senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity. “There was not much incentive left to voluntarily offer services for 2019 elections."

While breaking away from the party is not a possibility even for those who did not make it to the second cabinet list, Congress is worried about continued factionalism and public show of dissent from its local leadership. “We have shown a lot of restraint till now, but anyone who continues with anti-party statements or indiscipline will face the consequences," Dinesh Gundu Rao, Karnataka Congress president, said on Saturday.

Seven-time legislator, Ramalinga Reddy’s daughter Sowmya Reddy, an MLA, declined the parliamentary secretary’s post to protest the treatment meted out to her father.

After it forged an alliance with Janata Dal (Secular) to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the single-largest party in the state, out of power and form the government in May, the Congress has been unable to effectively deal with simmering dissent within its ranks. Some leaders, who missed out on the second cabinet list, also alleged that the state leadership has not even contacted them in the last seven months.

The six ministerial vacancies had fuelled dissent, but filling them would be another problem for the Congress, political observers said. In fact, many Congress leaders even decided to stay from the just concluded winter session of the state legislature in Belagavi, about 500km from Bengaluru.

A. Narayana, political analyst and faculty at the Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, said dissent will impact the smooth functioning of the party, but may not result in attempts to break away, given that there are no second level leaders to lead the dissidents.

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