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Tussle continues in Dharwad Congress unit

By Our Special Correspondent

DHARWAD, OCT. 28. The differences within the Dharwad district unit of the Congress came to the fore again in the Dharwad Zilla Panchayat, considered a preserve of H.K. Patil, MLC and former Minister.

A rebel candidate won the election to the post of President of the zilla panchayat on Wednesday defeating the party nominee backed by the H.K. Patil group.

The defeat of Sottammanavar is seen as a setback to the leadership of Mr. H.K. Patil with the "anti-H.K. Patil group" already assuming control of the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC).

Genesis

The genesis of the internecine quarrels in the Dharwad Congress Committee can be traced to the days of the late K.H. Patil, the then President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), and the late D.K. Naikar, the then Minister for Municipal Administration in the late Devaraj Urs regime in the Seventies.

With the demise of K.H. Patil, dissidence activities increased in the district Congress. D.K. Naikar, who had a penchant for controlling the affairs of the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation, found to his dismay that he had hardly any control over rural Dharwad.

After the demise of D.K. Naikar, a tussle broke out between Mr. H.K. Patil, son of K.H. Patil, and the rival group. It intensified during the 1999 Assembly elections.

None of the four MLAs elected from the district (two elected on the Congress ticket and two who joined the party after the elections) found a place in the Cabinet and the MLAs held Mr. H.K. Patil responsible for the same and launched a campaign against him. What lent an edge to the campaign was the involvement of the then Minister for Urban Development, D.K. Shivakumar.

The dissident MLAs' group drew its sustenance and support from Mr. Shivakumar.

Impact

The outcome of the 2004 elections left its impact on the dissident activities in the district. Three of the four MLAs opposed to Mr. H.K. Patil failed to retain their seats. Even Mr. Shivakumar found himself at a disadvantage.

Dormant

The activities of the anti-H.K. Patil group in rural Dharwad remained dormant for some time after the supporters of Mr. H.K. Patil asserted their primacy during the election of the President of the zilla panchayat last year.

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