New Delhi/Bangalore, Apr 7, 2013, DHNS:
Vayalar and Ambika other members in team
The Congress high command has set up a three-member team led by Defence Minister A K Antony to probe allegations that party tickets for Assembly elections are being sold in Karnataka.
The team, which also comprises Union Minister for Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi and former Union minister Ambika Soni, is also likely to visit Bangalore to assess the situation, party sources told Deccan Herald.
The Congress also plans to send a few more observers to Karnataka to visit around 30 out of the 47 constituencies where the party is yet to announce its candidates.
Soon after the release of the first list of 177 candidates out of the total 224 constituencies on Friday evening, the party top brass was flooded with complaints that many tickets have been sold, overlooking deserving contestants, it is learnt.
There is a huge demand for party tickets. And two prominent leaders from Karnataka were able to corner the maximum number of tickets and distribute them to their loyalists, said most complaints.
So far, only one Congress worker in Belgaum has openly alleged that party tickets have been sold. But the selection of candidates for Bangalore city has raised many eyebrows.
The party has announced candidates for only 18 of the 28 seats in Bangalore city. But ticket aspirants are well aware of the candidates in the rest of the constituencies. Many people who are into real estate business have influenced the people who selected the candidates, it is alleged.
For example, when V R Sudarshan, former MLC, wants to contest from Jayanagar, the state party unit has reportedly recommended a person who is into illegal land dealings.
Similarly, there is resentment over the shortlisted candidates for Rajarajeshwari Nagar and C V Raman Nagar.
One prospective candidate of CV Raman Nagar has even booked a room for an influential Congress leader in a five star hotel in the heart of the city.
The media has reported the contents of a letter written by KPCC president G Parameshwara to the AICC recommending Krishnamurthy’s candidature from Rajarajeshwari Nagar.
The president has also recommended that corporator Munirathan should not be fielded.
In KR Puram, a person with “loads of money” has been preferred over former minister A Krishnappa, it is said. In C V Raman Nagar, the party has reportedly shortlisted a person who is into realty business.
Sources in Delhi said the central leadership was also shocked to hear claims of some candidates about the way they managed to get tickets.
Some candidates have already started mobilising support for a particular leader for the post of chief minister, the sources said.
With many ticket aspirants protesting against the denial of candidature, several state leaders have also reportedly advised the high command against sending any observers to Bangalore as they think it will be a futile exercise.
AICC General Secretary in charge of Karnataka Madhusudan Mistry denied receiving any complaints about ticket distribution.
“We have neither received any complaints nor are we sending any observers to Karnataka to assess the situation,” he told Deccan Herald.
It is not the first time that the Congress leadership has received such complaints.
During the 2008 assembly elections in the state, many leaders, including the then Congress general secretary and now Rajasthan governor, Margaret Alva, had alleged sale of party tickets.