The Congress has decided to field its Muslim leaders for campaigning in poll-bound Karnataka to counter any possible attempt of polarisation by its rival parties during the assembly polls there, senior party leaders have said. The Congress has also asked its leaders and functionaries in Karnataka, the lone big state under its rule at present, to refrain from engaging in any discourse that may lead to polarising voters, a leader added. Besides Karnataka, the Congress is currently in power in Punjab, Meghalaya, Mizoram and the Union Territory of Puducherry. Of these, Meghalaya goes to poll on February 27. The term of the Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government ends in the mid of this year. The election to the 224-member capacity state assembly is expected to be held before that. “There is always a possibility of our opponents indulging in polarisation to consolidate votes. When they does so, a regional party representing minority community comes into play to help them to polarise electors,” one of the leaders claimed.
“To counter such a situation, our leaders from the community will be campaigning during the election,” the leader said. However, the leader did not divulge the names of those who will be canvassing for the high-voltage election. “We have enough community leaders to do the job. Plus, the Siddaramaiah government has performed well. So, we have achievements to tell people about,” the leader added. Another party insider said the Congress adopted similar strategy in 2015 Bihar assembly elections and also during Maharashtra’s Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC) polls held last year. In Bihar, the Congress, which was then a part of grand alliance with JD(U) and RJD, won 27 assembly seats out of the 40 segments. The Congress also emerged victorious in the election to the Maharashtra civic body by getting 73 of the 81 wards there.
The leader claimed that Congress’ approach was one of the factors due to which the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Muslimeen (AIMIM) could not consolidate minority votes in the NWMC polls. “Similar exercise will be carried out in Karnataka.” While the schedule for the assembly poll in the southern state is yet to be announced, the campaign for the crucial election has virtually started with leaders of both the Congress and the BJP already making political claims. The state is expected to witness a three-corner contest with the H D Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (Secular) forming the third angle.