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Row over candidate intensifies as Cong scrambles to finalise pick in faction-ridden Kolar unit

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Bengaluru, Mar 29 (PTI) Amid speculations that the Congress may choose a candidate who does not belong to any faction in Kolar district for Lok Sabha polls, senior party leader and Minister K H Muniyappa on Friday warned that such plans will not be result-oriented.

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He urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister and state Congress President D K Shivakumar to unite factions led by him and former Legislative Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, to ensure Congress' victory in the Kolar Lok Sabha segment.

Five Congress legislators including a Minister on Wednesday threatened to resign if the Lok Sabha ticket is given to Muniyappa's son-in-law Chikka Peddanna to contest from Kolar, bringing into open the divisions in the outfit.

The party is yet to announce its candidate in the segment, currently held by the BJP.

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"I have assured that if the ticket is given to someone I have suggested I will ensure the candidates victory. As a member of parliament for over 30 years, having won the seat seven times, I know how to ensure victory in the constituency. But my feeling is that everyone should be together," Muniyappa said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said, it was earlier decided unanimously at a meeting to which Ramesh Kumar was also a party, that all leaders from the region will work together, keeping aside past differences to win in Kolar and Chikkaballapur constituencies, and everyone will abide by the party decision.

"In fact Ramesh Kumar said this, following which I too said the same thing. But I also made a request that as I have lost the seat and want to win, so give the ticket to the candidate I suggest -- Chikka Peddanna. I will ensure victory. Finally we decided to abide by the party decision," he added, noting that he was part of the Congress Working Committee.

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Muniyappa had returned to state politics after losing the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Kolar against BJP's S Muniswamy. He is currently MLA from Devanahalli and Minister for Food and Civil Supplies.

Muniyappa further said the Chief Minister seems to be planning differently (a new candidate who is not from any faction), "but it is not result-oriented." "The time is still not over ...I want the Congress to win, unite all of us and give one candidate the ticket. After we had all together authorised you (CM and DCM) to decide on the candidate earlier, there should not be two opinions on it," he said.

Ramesh Kumar was not available for the last couple of days due to ill health. The Chief Minister and party president should talk to him and send out a message that the party is together, he said, adding that "I'm a disciplined soldier of the party which has given me everything. So field a unanimous candidate. CM's and DCM's role is important in this." Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar on Thursday held a meeting with the lawmakers from Kolar who had threatened to resign over possible candidacy of Muniyappa’s son-in-law Chikka Peddanna, and wanted someone from the SC (Right) sect to be fielded. Peddanna belongs to SC (Left).

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Tle legislators who had threatened to quit are: three MLAs -- Kothur G Manjunath (Kolar), K Y Nanjegowda (Malur) and M C Sudhakar (Chintamani) -- and two MLCs -- Anil Kumar and Naseer Ahmed (the political secretary to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah). Sudhakar is the Higher Education Minister in the Siddaramaiah Cabinet.

The row over the Kolar seat is seen as a sequel to a long drawn fight between two factions of the Kolar Congress, one led by Muniyappa and another by Ramesh Kumar, vying for supremacy in the district.

Stating that the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister have to make efforts to bring both sides to an agreement, Muniyappa said, "it is not correct, if they instead try to wash their hands off, by fielding a new candidate, whether he or she can win or not." The party should not be affected because of "our egos", he said. "If you (leadership) decide not to give the ticket to both sides, then no one will work. The new person who comes as the candidate, should not suffer. Only if both sides unite, it will be in the interest of the party. Ramesh Kumar's role is important in this." Stating that he is deeply pained, Muniyappa, however, said Congress party is bigger than his pain.

He demanded that the ticket be given to a winnable candidate as per the surveys. "Congress winning is important for me, so give it to a winnable candidate, I will agree." PTI KSU RS RS

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