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Intense lobbying on in Cong. for Council ticket

Intense lobbying is on in the principal Opposition Congress in Karnataka to get party ticket for contesting elections to the State Legislative Council from the Legislative Assembly constituency, scheduled on June 29.

A total of 10 MLCs of the Congress, five elected and five nominated, are retiring in this month. With this, the party’s strength in the Upper House would reduce considerably.

Out of seven elected MLCs who are retiring on June 30, five belong to the Congress and they are Naseer Ahmed, Jayamma, M.C. Venugopal, N.S. Bose Raju, and H.M. Revanna. All the five members had been elected to the Upper House after the Congress formed the government in 2014.

Now, with the reduced strength of 68 members after the party’s defeat in the 2018 Assembly elections and resignation of 14 MLAs last year, the party can ensure victory of only two candidates. The required votes for each candidate is 28.

Nearly a dozen Congress leaders and office-bears are vying for contesting Council elections. Some of the prominent leaders lobbying for the ticket are former Ministers M.R. Seetharam, Rani Satish, Motamma, veteran party leader Margaret Alva’s son Nivedita Alva, and a few low-profile party leaders, including D.K. Mohan Babu and Bharati Shankar.

Sources said three incumbent MLCs — Naseer Ahmed, M.C. Venugopal, and H.M. Revanna — are also aspiring for ticket to contest again.

The five nominated MLCs are retiring on June 23. These MLCs are Kannada actor Jaimala, Abdul Jabbar, Ivan D’Souza, Iqbal Ahmed Saradagi, and Tippanna Kamaknoor. A couple of retiring nominated MLCs too are lobbying with KPCC president-designate D.K. Shivakumar, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, and the party high command, sources said.

The party sources said Congress is expected to field a male candidate from minority community/other backward classes and a woman candidate.

There was an “informal talk” between Congress and JD(S) on the latter extending support to the former in the Council elections for ensuring unanimous election of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in the Rajya Sabha elections. But sources said the JD(S) would not support the Congress and field its own candidate in Council polls. The JD(S) has 34 MLAs.

Mr. Shivakumar is expected to hold a meeting of senior leaders of the party this weekend for finalising names of the candidates and recommend same to the party high command, sources said.

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