The Karnataka Congress Sunday indicated action would be taken against disgruntled leaders who stayed away from the Congress-JD(S) joint rally, attended by AICC chief Rahul Gandhi Saturday at K R Nagar under Mandya Lok Sabha constituency, where Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamys son Nikhil is the coalition candidate.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dinesh Gundu Rao said he had also instructed senior partymen and Ministers D K Shivakumar and M B Patil not to make any public statements on the Lingayat issue as he tried to distance the party from the controversy.
"On Mandya, what should be done we have already discussed. I have also held discussions with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. We have come to a decision on what kind of action should be taken," Rao told reporters here in response to a question about the absence of the disgruntled leaders.
"Not attending the event of Rahul Gandhi is a serious issue, but how action should be taken, where and when, we will do it...
Congress party has taken it seriously, what kind of action should be taken we will take it later," he said.
With repeated efforts by the Congress state leadership including CLP leader Siddarmaiah to tide over local opposition to JD(S) candidate Nikhil in Mandya Lok Sabha constituency bearing no fruit, it was expected that Rahul's participation in the joint coalition rally would end the stalemate, as disgruntled party leaders would have to attend the event.
Upset over the party conceding the seat to JD(S), local Congress leaders and workers in Mandya have been strongly opposing the candidature of Nikhil and openly said they would not work for his victory,with most even supporting independent candidate Sumalatha Ambareesh, who has BJP's support.
They cited Kumaraswamy himself not seeking their support as one of the reasons for staying away from campaigning for Nikil and also voiced strong opinion against certain statements of the Chief Minister recently on a section of Mandya Congress leaders.
With the alliance facing trouble in several key Lok Sabha constituencies of old Mysuru region, especially Mandya, as Congress workers are unhappy over the seat sharing arrangement with JD(S), AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal had recently warned of strict disciplinary action against those working against the coalition candidate.
The party had on April 10 also suspended seven of its block presidents in Mandya for not toeing the party line.
However,party sources said action against any leaders was unlikely till the elections are over, to avoid any adverse impact.
Transfer of Congress' vote is crucial for the victory of the JD(S) candidate in Mandya and any adverse move by party workers and leaders locally will have its impact on the victory of the grand old party's candidate in other constituencies like Mysore-Madikeri.
Rao also said he had instructed two senior partymen and Ministers D K Shivakumar and M B Patil not to make any public comments on the previous Siddarmaiah government's decision to recommend to the Centre, according religious minority status to the dominant Lingayat community, the issue on which both leaders have locked horns.
"Congress has nothing to do with the issue, we have been saying this since the beginning. It is an issue left for the community and the government.
What the community decides in majority, things should happen accordingly. Party has nothing to do with it,"Rao said.
Also it is not right for anyone to give open statements like this. I told both of them not to give any public statements. It is unnecessary... it is even more unnecessary in the midst of election.
Vokkaliga leader Shivakumar had during a recent election rally apologized for Congress venturing into religious issues, which irked M B Patil who was at the forefront of the movement demanding religious minority status to Lingayat community.
The then Congress governments decision to recommend the status to the Lingayat community is said to be one of the reasons for the partys debacle in May 2018 assembly polls.
Patil has strongly reacted to Shivakumars apology, questioning what was his business in the issue, and asked him to look at partys poor performance in the old Mysuru region, which is dominated by Vokkaliga community.
The public spat between two senior party leaders from two dominant communities Vokkaliga and Lingayat has been a cause of worry for the Congress.
Lingayats are seen as the strong vote bank of BJP.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)