Group politics will likely play a key role in the upcoming legislative elections in Raichur district of Karnataka, with two groups in the state’s Congress vying for control. At the centre of it all are Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) spokesperson Vasanth Kumar and All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary N.S. Boseraju.
Mr. Kumar has been a loyal supporter of veteran Congress member M. Mallikarjun Kharge, who is AICC president. On the other hand, Mr. Boseraju has managed to get close to former Chief Ministers, including S. Bangarappa, N. Dharam Singh, and former Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah, as well as some of the party’s national leaders such as K.C. Venugopal, Digvijaya Singh and Randeep Singh Surjewala.
This has led to increased tension between the two groups, as both are vying for the party ticket in the upcoming Assembly elections in Raichur district. Mr. Boseraju’s supporters believe Mr. Kumar’s loyalty to Mr. Kharge puts the former at a disadvantage, as the party ticket is supposedly being withheld due to Mr. Kumar’s influence.
The Congress has traditionally favoured a Muslim candidate in Raichur, based on the board 70,000-strong Muslim population in the district. Since 1994, Syed Yasin has been the party’s candidate for six consecutive Assembly elections and he won two, in 1999 and 2008.
However, given his disappointing performance in the last two elections and the fact that his health is in decline, a new contender for the party ticket has emerged. This time, though, in addition to Mr. Boseraju and his wife, 17 other candidates, 13 of which are Muslim, have applied for the ticket.
Such as the situation stands, Mr. Boseraju’s name appears neither in the first list of 124 party candidates nor in the second list, leading many to suspect Mr. Kumar’s involvement in blocking Mr. Boseraju. Mr. Kumar is instead in favour of Aslam Pasha, one of the 13 Muslim candidates.
The party is likely to give at least 15 Assembly tickets to Muslim candidates, and Raichur is one of the constituencies being considered for such a candidate. Meanwhile, Mr. Boseraju’s denial of the ticket may impact the party’s fortunes in Manvi, Raichur Rural and Maski, all ST-reserved constituencies, as Mr. Boseraju has held the seat in Manvi twice and has loyal followers in Maski and Raichur Rural as well.
Throughout this entire saga, Vasanth Kumar, of course, stands at the centre of the power struggle. He is the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) spokesperson and a staunch ally of M. Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the AICC president. Mr. Kumar’s close ties to the party’s top brass has led to tension with N.S. Boseraju, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary, who is a contender for the party ticket in Raichur district.
Meanwhile, the incumbent Syed Yasin, has been weakened by his poor performance in the past two elections, as well as his fragile health. He and his wife are still in the running for Congress nomination, but they face strong competition from the 17 candidates, some of whom are Muslim.
This whole episode emphasizes the importance of group dynamics in politics, and how power struggles can lead to drastic outcomes. As the fate of the Congress in Raichur hangs in the balance, it remains to be seen whether Mr. Kumar will be successful in his endeavour to give Aslam Pasha the ticket, or if Mr. Boseraju will be able capitalise on the growing popularity he and his followers have in the region.