Date:30/06/2005 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2005/06/30/stories/2005063008280400.htm
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Karnataka - Bangalore

Sonia Gandhi to select KPCC President

Staff Reporter

Party workers protest against omission of leaders in committee members' list; meeting terminated



WORKERS' IRE: Congress members gheraoing B. Janardhana Poojary, President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, at the venue of the KPCC members' meeting in Bangalore on Wednesday . — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

BANGALORE: Going by the convention in the Congress in recent decades and following in the footsteps of the other State units, the general body of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) on Wednesday authorised the party President, Sonia Gandhi, to select the new President of the State unit.

The first meeting of the newly "elected" members of the KPCC here adopted a single-line "unanimous resolution" authorising Ms. Gandhi to "nominate the President, the office-bearers, the members of the KPCC Executive Committee, members of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) and members of the State Election Committee of the KPCC."

The meeting adopted the resolution even as some irate party workers were shouting slogans outside the venue against the omission of names of prominent leaders from the list of those shown to have been elected to the KPCC from the district and taluk Congress Committees.

Although there are several aspirants for the post to be vacated by B. Janardhana Poojary, no one had filed nomination papers for the election on Tuesday.

Meeting terminated

The meeting unanimously adopted the resolution after it was hurriedly read out by the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, emphasising the need to strengthen Ms. Gandhi's position in the party. In view of the trouble brewing outside the venue, the meeting was terminated within 15 minutes. Although the meeting was scheduled for 11 a.m., party workers started assembling at the Ambedkar Bhavan premises well before 10 a.m. They raised slogans against Mr. Poojary; the AICC General Secretary and Rajya Sabha Member, Margaret Alva; the Chairman of the KPCC Election Authority, Khan Ghufran Zahidi; its co-Chairman, A. Chakrapani, and others for "manipulating" the list of nominated members of the KPCC.

Poojary heckled

When Mr. Poojary arrived, they demanded an explanation for omitting the names of prominent leaders in the list of 462 persons nominated from the district and taluk committees. Even as Mr. Poojary was trying to convince them of the merit of the selection process and the political standing of the selected members, the workers reportedly abused and attempted to assault him.

Mr. Singh, who arrived at the venue a little later, could not escape the vituperations of the party workers, who repeatedly asked why the names of R.L. Jalappa, MP, the former KPCC President Allum Veerabhadrappa, and others have been omitted and the names of "unknown persons" included.

Sensing trouble, the police got into action and tried to clear the way for Mr. Singh.

This resulted in a minor stampede in which some leaders, including Mr. Poojary, were caught. However, the police were able to control the situation.

`A smooth affair'

Mr. Zahidi claimed that the general body meeting was a "smooth and successful" affair.

Addressing a press conference at the KPCC office after the meeting, Mr. Zahidi, a former Speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, said he will bring the "content and spirit behind the resolution" to the notice of those concerned.

Asked when the party High Command is likely to nominate the KPCC President, he said: "At the earliest."

Asked about the vociferous protests by party workers, he said the selections were made on the basis of merit, and leaders representing the poor have been given recognition.

"Everything is fair and genuine. The party workers are not aggrieved and there is no confusion. It is only the making of the media," he alleged.

Before addressing the press conference, Mr. Zahidi had been besieged by angry party workers who attempted to prevent him from addressing presspersons.

Asked about the allegation of corruption in the preparation of the list, he said: "I am clean. The list is perfect. However, the appeal made by the aggrieved party workers will be forwarded to those concerned in the party."

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