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Karnataka Congress to Continue With Dalit President in Build-up to Polls

File photo of Karnataka Congress president G Parameshwara.

File photo of Karnataka Congress president G Parameshwara.

With less than a year to go for Assembly polls in Karnataka, the Congress has decided to stick to its Dalit face G Parameshwara to lead the party. Parameshwara, whose current term was slated to end this month, has been reappointed as president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.

Bengaluru: With less than a year to go for Assembly polls in Karnataka, the Congress is likely to stick to its Dalit face G Parameshwara to lead the party. Parameshwara, whose current term was slated to end this month, has been reappointed as president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.

The high-command’s decision to continue with Parameshwara comes in the backdrop of caste surveys which indicate a bigger population of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward castes in Karnataka, compared with the Vokkaliga and Lingayat communities that were thought to be more dominant.

Parameshwara completed his five-year term in October 2015, but got an extension till May 2017. He has now been given a second term, after convincing the high command he would be the best-placed to improve the party’s image in the run-up to elections.

He has been home minister since 2015, but is likely to give up the post by next month so that he can focus on strengthening the party. He is an MLC, and had lost the Assembly elections last year from the Koratagere constituency in Tumkur.

Interestingly, the Bharatiya Janata Party is also focusing its energies on wooing weaker castes in the state. The past two weeks’ itinerary has seen BJP president B S Yeddyurappa visiting Dalit homes and neighborhoods almost every day during his state-wide tours. Yeddyurappa had faced a controversy for having ordered food from a hotel during his visit to a Dalit home about 10 days ago.

Both parties have been holding public rallies for specific castes since the beginning of the year.

According to political analysts, the Congress thought it’s best to retain Parameshwara to counter BJP’s strategy of wooing Dalits. Others senior Congress leaders who were in the race for the top post in the party’s Karnataka unit — seven-time MP K H Muniyappa, ministers M B Patil and D K Shivakumar, and former minister S R Patil — have been promised other key posts in the party.
first published:May 30, 2017, 21:19 IST