Bangalore: As parties race towards the high-stake battle in the coming Assembly polls, Congress in Karnataka eyeing to recapture power after an eight year hiatus is battling hard to douse the rebel fire with potential to upset its applecart in a tricky contest.
With imponderables galore, the Congress having its own poll calculations can ill afford even a slight erosion of vote share that the discontent within the party may cause.
The rebel factor puts the party in an unenviable position as it sees itself as being too close to power after cooling its heels in the opposition for about eight long years.
As the last date for bowing out contest for the May five Assembly polls ended on Saturday, the Congress' damage control efforts however had yielded results with 23 rebels in 19 assembly segments withdrawing their nominations.
But the discomfort lingers as rebels are remaining in the fray in more than a dozen other constituencies, that has made the Congress leaders redouble their efforts to coax them to "retire" in favour of official nominees.
The Congress rebels are remaining in Bhadravathi, Belgaum Rural, Khanapur, Tarikere, Karwar-Ankola, Kunigal, Srirangapatna, Hanur, Mayakonda, Kampli, Beelagi and Jamkhandi, besides several other constituencies.
But in a relief to the party, former External Affairs Minister and Chief Minister S M Krishna has plunged into the campaign, ending speculation that he might keep himself away as he was miffed over the issue of ticket distribution.
The central Congress leaders have reportedly been successful in persuading Krishna, who campaigned in some constituencies in the city today.
The Congress is leaving nothing to chance in the backdrop of its hopes of bouncing back to power being rekindled in the recent elections to Urban Local Bodies in which it pushed the ruling BJP to the third spot.
For JDS led by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, tremors of rebellion are felt in Mandya and Hassan districts, both Vokkaliga community belts and considered bastions of the party. The problem is however not much serious for the Gowda family controlled monolithic outfit.
In several constituencies, JDS has accommodated entrants from other parties, true to election time migration. JDS is angling for a crucial role in a possible post-election fluid scenario.
If it is a problem of plenty for the Congress, the picture in the ruling BJP is contrary.
With former party strongman B S Yeddyurappa walking out of the party to float his own Karnataka Janatha Party, some 30 legislators had deserted the BJP, making it a difficult task to find candidates in several constituencies.
Being in a nascent stage with its influence still to be put to test, KJP is devoid of any rebel issue and is hoping to ride piggyback on Yeddyurappa, a Lingayat community strongman.