Will the lack of a Muslim leadership in the Hyderabad-Karnataka/Northeast Karnataka region hurt the prospects of the Congress party. The region comprising Bidar, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal and Gulbarga and, Bellary districts play a crucial role in shaping the prospects of any political party.
On one hand, the Congress government in its attempt to divide dominant community Lingayat - which plays a decisive role in the election- apparently ignored to find a new Muslim leader in the region who can consolidate Muslim votes in the upcoming elections. With the passing away of former chief minister Dharam Singh and the senior most Muslim leader from the region Qamar ul Islam, the party is being crippled by the absence of tall leaders who can bring together Muslim community.
Dharam Singh hailed from the Rajput community, whose numbers are very low in the state. However, he knew the art of winning over political rivals. Qamar ul Islam a well-known name in the region, was elected six times from Gulbarga North constituency.
According to reports, Khaneez Fathima, the wife of late Congress leader and minister Qamar ul Islam, has been convinced by senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge to accept a ticket if given one from Gulbarga North, the constituency Islam represented.
Sources told OneIndia, "The process of finding a new leader is not going to be a cakewalk for the Congress. The party wants to ride on a sympathy wave in Gulbarga North by giving the ticket to Khaneez Fathima but internal revolt cannot be overruled if the ticket is given to her. For the leadership vacuum in the region, late Qamar ul Islam has to share the blame too. He had followers but, did not groom second rung Muslim leadership in the region."
In absence of two tall leaders, now the gigantic responsibility lies on the shoulders of senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and his son Priyanka Kharge who is currently a minister in the Congress government. Besides, recent induction of Mallikarjun Khuba, Nagappa Saloni, Basavaraj Patil Anwari and Malikayya Guttedar to the BJP has mounted pressure on the Congress leadership in the region.
Political analyst Mahadeva Prakash blamed Mallikarjun Kharge and Dharam Singh for the leadership crisis in Hyderabad-Karnataka region. Mahadeva Prakash said, "Both of them have grown like a banyan tree in the party. But they never allowed others to grow politically either Lingayats, backward class and minority. In fact, they restricted Qamar ul Islam to Gulbarga North. Qamar ul Islam's wife may win with the help of sympathy wave. However, he ruled out opposition to her candidature."
It may be recalled that the Congress had won 27 seats out of 40 seats in 2013. The rise in the number of seats was attributed to division in BJP vote back due to Lingayat leader BS Yeddyurappa's faction Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP). In fact, traditionally Muslim voters have always stood by the Congress in the region. This time they may have to vote for the Congress without a prominent Muslim face around.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|