Congress LS candidates blame alliance with JD(S) for defeat

Bengaluru: Congress candidates in Karnataka have blamed the alliance with the JD(S), issues within the party and alleged misuse of Electronic Voting Machines as the reasons for their defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, party sources said on Wednesday.

The views were expressed by the Congress candidates during their meeting with AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal, in the presence of KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao, CLP leader Siddaramaiah, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara here.

According to sources, during the meeting, several Congress candidates blamed internal issues for their defeat, pointing out they did not get lead in the assembly constituencies represented by party MLAs. Also blaming the alliance with JD(S) for their defeat,they alleged the regional party’s support for them was only superficial and they did not work towards ensuring transfer of votes to Congress. Many legislators felt that negative opinion towards the Congress-JD(S) coalition government led to party suffering defeat in at least 5 seats, sources said.

Also noting that the leadership had failed in countering the ‘Modi wave’, a few candidates also alleged EVMs might have been the reason for their loss. Pointing out that BJP won in some constituencies, where it had very little chance, leading to suspicion about its (EVMs) misuse, candidates demanded for going back to ballot paper system.

In its worst ever performance in Karnataka, the Congress had faced a rout in the Lok Sabha polls by winning just one seat. JD(S) too had won one seat. Congress and JD(S) that faced the Lok Sabha polls together, as per the coalition arrangement had contested in 21 and seven seats, respectively. In its best ever performance, BJP had won 25 out of 27 seats it had contested in.

An independent candidate supported by the saffron party, Sumalatha Ambareesh had won in Mandya. Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily on Saturday had said the party would have won 15 to 16 seats in the Lok Sabha polls had there been no tie-up with JD(S) and that trusting the alliance was a ‘mistake’.

He had also blamed opposition within the Congress for his defeat in Chikkaballapura. Moily is said to have expressed similar opinion during the meeting on Wednesday that was attended by other defeated candidates like K H Muniyappa, Rizwan Arshad, B N Chandrappa and Vinay Kulkarni among others.

However, a few defeated candidates including Mallikarjun Kharge, B K Hariprasad, D R Patil and Krishna Byre Gowda were not present at the meeting. Venugopal asked leaders to leave behind the defeat and work towards organising the party, sources said, adding that he also asked them not make any remarks openly against the party and the government.

Later speaking to reporters, Venugopal said, “Today morning we had a review meeting with defeated candidates, after that we had senior leaders meeting. In both meetings we have discussed in detail the Lok Sabha election (results) and specially, how to move forward.”

Pointing out that AICC has dissolved KPCC, he said, it was decided that in three weeks PCC had to be reconstituted. “There should be strict guidelines as far as the office-bearers’ selection is concerned. It should be strictly on merit basis. After PCC reconstitution, there should be DCC reconstitution, also block and booth level,” he added.

Stating that there was unanimous opinion among the top leadership of the party that there is need for a panchayat level committee, Venugopal said in between booth and block committee there should be a panchayat level committee also,and this process will be completed in three months.

The party will also conduct a state-level leadership training camp for three days to discuss the failures, strengthening of the party and how to move forward, he said adding, “Our purpose is to strengthen our party at the organisational level; definitely it will help government also.”