STATES

Hariprasad top pick for Opposition leader in Council

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Senior Congress leader and former Union minister CM Ibrahim, who was in contention for the post of Opposition leader in the Legislative Council may find himself out of favour after hobnobbing with the JDS. Former CM Siddaramaiah and AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka, Randeep Surjewala, had personally called on Ibrahim at his Benson Town residence seeking to dissuade him, but he continued to keep channels open with the JDS leadership, much to the embarrassment of the Congress.

Ibrahim, who is known to be a good speaker, started his career in the Congress and was minister under then Chief Minister R Gundu Rao. He left the party to join the JDS and was made Union minister under then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. He returned to the Congress in 2008. With Ibrahim almost out of the way and senior leader S R Patil being denied a ticket, MLCs Naseer Ahmed (Minority) R B Timmapur (SC-Left) B K Hariprasad (Billava-Backward) and Allum Veerabhadrappa (Lingayat) are the other senior leaders in the reckoning.

Among them, Hariprasad seems to be the frontrunner, considering that he has been AICC general secretary for over a decade and his experience in the Rajya Sabha. He had repeatedly refused to accept any ministerial office during the 2004-2014 UPA regime, and instead preferring party positions.

The last official position he held was that of chairman of the Slum Development Board over 30 years ago. 
Speaking about his chances, RB Timmapur, who was minister for three terms, said the decision is left to the party leadership. Allum Veerabhadrappa was earlier party state president and enjoys seniority while Naseer Ahmed was minister in the S Bangarappa Cabinet in the late 80s.

Seniority may not be the only criterion a leader’s ability to lead the party in the house will also be considered, the party sources pointed out and added that Hariprasad may score on this count. In addition, he belongs to the influential Idiga community which has political heft in as many as 70 Assembly constituencies in the state. Other Backward Castes have been complaining about the dominance of Kurubas in the Congress, and hence, picking a backward class leader may help the party consolidate its hold on the community, they felt.

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