In post-AAP world, Congress balancing act

Dec 30 2013, 05:51 IST
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SummarySiddaramaiah may cancel MLAs’ tour to Latin America; In Bihar, seat sharing with Lalu awaits Rahul’s nod.

Even as Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan feels the Aam Admi Party (AAP) impact on the Congress, the party is doing a balancing act in other states. This week in Karnataka, for example, while Siddaramaiah may be forced to include two tainted ministers in a Cabinet expansion, a proposed study tour by state MLAs to Brazil, Argentina and Peru, which has run into controversy, may be cancelled.

Sources said that Siddaramaiah has been trying to fend off pressure from the high command for over two weeks to induct D K Shivkumar and Roshan Baig, citing the prevailing anti-corruption sentiment. While Shivkumar faces charges of involvement in mining and land scams, Baig’s name was linked with the Telgi scam. However, Siddaramaiah, sou-rces said, has been overruled as the Central leadership is eager to pacify the powerful Vokkaliga leader and the pro-minent Muslim leader ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

The matter has gained further urgency because of the possibility of Vokkaliga leader B S Yeddyurappa’s return to the BJP. Congress sources said Cabinet expansion would be carried out this week in Karnataka “unless MLAs don’t want to take oath during an inauspicious period”.

However, in a nod to what AAP’s success indicates, the Latin American tour of MLAs may be called off. AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka Digvijaya Singh is learnt to have asked the CM to cancel the tour as it would send out a wrong signal with some parts of the state reeling under drought. As the tour had been approved during Yeddyurappa’s time, the CM has been asked to talk to the Assembly Speaker to cancel it. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was said to be also upset at the tour plan.

In the north, the AAP factor is learnt to be delaying replacement of Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna. While the party high command has already taken his resignation, sources said, the change of guard is getting delayed as Union minister Harish Rawat is not prepared to forsake his claim to the coveted post. The party is hoping to find a “young MLA with an absolutely impeccable image”. However, the Congress leadership is also wary of a rebellion ahead of the elections, as witnessed after the Assembly elections when Rawat had sulked for long over the CM’s chair.

The AAP factor is also learnt to be casting a shadow on the party’s strategy in Bihar. While the Congress leadership

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