Congress rules out changing Karnataka unit leader

Bangalore, Dec 31 (IANS) The Congress Monday said it would not replace the party's Karnataka unit president G. Parameshwara, though a powerful section in the state unit has been campaigning for his removal.

"There will be no change. The coming assembly elections (due in May) will be fought under Parameshwara's leadership," Congress general secretary in-charge of the party's Karnataka affairs, Madhusudan Mistry, told reporters here.

His assertion came a day after veteran state Congress leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa said that a Lingayat should be made the president of the Karnataka unit if the party wanted to come back to power in the state.

Lingayats constitute about 17 percent of the state's 65 million population. Shivashankarappa, who is a Lingayat, has been openly demanding that he be made the state Congress chief. The 81-year-old leader has been state Congress treasurer for over a decade.

Parameshwara is a Dalit.

The assembly elections are due in May. The Congress has been out of power in Karnataka since 2007.