Lingayat tag to help Laxmi Hebbalkar retain women’s wing post?

Bengaluru: There may be Congressmen eager to clip her wings but state women’s Congress wing chief and Belagavi MLA Laxmi Hebbalkar, who has been courting one controversy after the other, may continue in her post at least till the Parliament elections due in 2019.  Sources in the Congress confided that there is no strong move in the party to set in motion a process to replace her.  “Some women leaders have been going to Delhi and making attempts but it is highly unlikely that she will be removed,” sources said.

Interestingly, senior leaders are reportedly ready with their candidates in case the party decides to have a new women’s wing chief. "If the top brass decides to bring in a new chief, Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar who backed Ms Hebbalkar for this post,  may prop up another of his loyalists, Bharati Shankar who belongs to the Vokkaliga community so that he can continue to control the women’s wing," sources said. Ms Shankar is reportedly  in the good books of Deputy CM, Dr G. Parameshwar too.

However other senior leaders like former CM Siddaramaiah and KPCC president, Dinesh Gundurao are pitching for Nagalaxmi Chaudhary to replace Ms Hebbalkar while Chikkaballapur MP and former Union minister, M. Veerappa Moily is lobbying for Kamakshi Rajanna. Sources said Pushpa Rajagopal who unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections from Bommanahalli, is also trying her luck.

But Ms Hebbalkar has three advantages over her rivals. She has deep pockets,  belongs to the majority Lingayat community and is from a North Karnataka district, Belagavi. Considering the grouse among Lingayat and North Karnataka leaders that they have been given a raw deal during the formation of the coalition government, the central leadership may not replace her at this juncture, sources added.

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