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'Merit, winnability' factors during seat-sharing talks: Cong

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Press Trust of India Bengaluru
The Congress' Karnataka chief Dinesh Gundu Rao Thursday said "merit and winnability" would be the criteria during seat-sharing talks for Lok Sabha polls.
His statement comes amid mounting pressure from the partys local leadership not to cede four major constituencies in the old Mysuru region to the JD(S), its coalition partner.
The Karnataka PCC chief also signalled possible delay in seat-sharing discussions with the JD(S).
The Congress will hold its general body meeting on February 6, he said.
"..assembly session is also there (from Feb 6), then we have joint legislature party meeting of JD(S) and Congress MLAs, after all this seat-sharing discussion will start," Rao said in response to a question from reporters.
Earlier, Rao had said seat-sharing talks would be held in the first week of February.
Congress leaders from Mandya, Hassan, Mysuru, Tumkuru met Rao, Congress Legislature party leader Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and other leaders to discuss local politics and preparation for Lok Sabha polls.
During the discussion, local leaders asked the party leadership not to cede seats to JD(S) and the party be allowed to choose one seat between Hassan and Mandya, party sources said.
Hassan and Mandya are currently held by JD(S) MPs.
Seat-sharing is expected to be a litmus test for both the parties, mostly in the old Mysuru region constituencies, where JD(S) has emerged as a dominant force in the recent past and the Congress has its sitting MPs.
"Congress has ten seats, JD(S) in 2 (out of 28 seats at present), what should be done in these 12 seats (for coming polls), in the rest of 16 seats what should be done, that leadership of both parties will decide," Rao said in response to a question about the party workers' demand.
"It is not the question of prestige or numbers.
How much is our share, how much is theirs is not the question.The question is who is winnable, who has more chances of winning thats more important. Merit and winnability is more important," he said.
The discussion on seat-sharing is likely to take place next month. However, the JD(S) has already expressed its desire to contest in 10-12 seats.
Rao said the aim is to win more seats in Karnataka and to make Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister. However, he did not elaborate much about what transpired at the meeting.
"Our intention is both the Congress and JD(S) have to win more seats and BJP should only get minimum seats, in that direction we have discussed," he said.
Responding to question about some leaders opposing alliance in the old Mysuru region and that Congress should go it alone there, Rao said local leaders too understand the reasons for alliance with JD(S) and coalition government and will abide by the party's decision in its interest.
"We are aware that at local level there is competition between both parties and there are issues, as we have fought against each other in the past...we have to solve them through mutual discussions.
Party workers and leaders are fully aware of Rahul Gandhis thinking and reasons behind formation of the coalition government and are committed for the cause," he added.
To a question which constituency the party was ready to concede to JD(S), Rao said it would be discussed and decided during seat-sharing talks.
Meanwhile, there is growing demand to field late actor-turned-politician Ambareeshs wife Sumalatha from Mandya.
Responding to a question on Sumalatha, who is a famous actress, Rao said he did not have information about it.
"We have not discussed about candidates today..let's see, all this comes once seat sharing is discussed."

A section within the Congress feels that the party can bag the seat banking on late Ambareeshs popularity in the region and sympathy wave following his death recently.
Also, the JD(S) will concede the seat for Sumalatha, as both Gowda and Ambareesh family share good bonding, according to party sources.
Rao urged both JD(S) and Congress leaders to stop commenting against each other and work together in the interest of the coalitions victory during Lok Sabha polls.
"We have told our party people not to make any personal comments and discuss within the party forum. JD(S) should also follow it, I have trust that they will also follow it. Both parties have to completely support each other in winning the election," he said.

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First Published: Jan 31 2019 | 9:10 PM IST

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