BJP's third list of candidates for Karnataka election shows it has continued policy of poaching rival leaders into its fold

Bengaluru: The BJP is letting the cat out of the bag slowly. Ticket aspirants and local leaders are left guessing only in 11 constituencies now, as the party's third list comprising of 59 candidates has been released. BJP voters have been disappointed in two major constituencies — Udupi and Krishnaraja in Mysuru.

Former Udupi MLA Raghupathy Bhat has had rough phases in his political career on two counts — the mysterious ‘suicide’ of his wife Padmapriya in 2008, and later, a sleazy video that went ‘viral’ in the early days of social media. There were also rumours involving SA Ramadas, who was the Krishnaraja MLA in 2008, 1999 and 1994, that he had illicit relations with a woman named Premakumari, and then abandoned her. The BJP's decision to award tickets to these two candidates is bound to place core voters of the party in a dilemma.

“However, we might be left with no other choice, but to vote for them if we want footprints of Modi’s governance in Karnataka,” reason voters on several WhatsApp groups that are abuzz again after the release of the BJP’s third list.

The BJP's choice of candidate in Udupi doesn’t promise a shift in favour of the party. This shift could have happened had it succeeded in bringing incumbent MLA Pramod Madhwaraj into its fold. If Madhwaraj would have moved from the Congress to BJP, the latter would have benefited by having fielded the only candidate from the Mogaveera community with a strong presence not just in Udupi, but all along the coast in Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada. Such a move could have united the Mogaveera in favour of the BJP in the coastal region. However, this was not to be.

BJP flags. Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Election watchers as well as ordinary voters remember how the BJP came to power in 2008 — through "operation Kamala" — bringing MLAs from different parties into the saffron party's fold. In 2018, when the Reddys of Ballari are trying to make a comeback, the BJP has already started a similar process.

In the third list, Gali Karunakar Reddy has got a party ticket to contest from Harapanahalli assembly constituency against Congress’ MP Ravindra.

The Reddy brothers have begun ‘Operation Lotus’ well before the election this time, having managed to lure their political rival NY Gopalkrishna into the BJP. He will contest from the Kudligi Assembly constituency against the Congress’ Raghu Gujjal. Also, Gopalkrishna has represented the Monakalmuru Assembly constituency thrice from the Congress. Therefore, his absence there will certainly make matters easier for B Sriramulu, whom BJP placed in the contest for this Chitradurga seat.

BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa also has been named in the third list. Among his followers who have been allotted tickets this time are SI Chikkanagoudra from Kundagol, Neharu Olekar from Haveri, B P Harish from Harihar. These three leaders had contested from the Karnataka Janata Paksha in 2013.

Chandrasekhar Gokak, a former bank employee who resigned to contest as a BJP candidate from Hubli (SC) constituency, has been chosen to contest for the seat owing to his association with the cadres and philanthropic activities of the RSS.

The BJP has also fielded cine actor Sai Kumar, who belongs to the Balija community. The Balijas constitute a major chunk of the electorate in the border constituency of Bagepalli, Chikballapur district, which is also Kumar’s native region. A renowned Telugu actor, Kumar had unsuccessfully the contested 2008 elections on a BJP ticket. The “dialogue king” has earned a large fan base in most parts of Chikkaballapur, where there is a large number of Telugu speakers. Since most of Bagepalli constituency borders Andhra Pradesh, Telugu culture may influence voters and Sai Kumar’s presence in the field has given a new twist to the elections in the border areas.

Continuing its "Operation Kamala" across other regions in the state, the BJP has recently roped in former Congress MLA Amaresh. The party has fielded him from Mulbagal. Amaresh was a protege of Kolar MP and former minister of state KH Muniyappa.

Both Muniyappa and former MLA Y Sampangi have fielded their daughters Roopa and Ashwini, respectively. They had both contested the ZP elections too, and Ashwini emerged the winner. The move comes after BJP had distanced itself from Sampangi who was caught accepting a Rs 5 lakh bribe in 2009. He was denied a ticket from Kolar for this reason. However, his mother, Ramakka, got the ticket and won 2013 elections against her JD(S) opponent M Bakthavatchalam, garnering almost double the votes as he did. Now it is his daughter Ashwini’s turn to keep the constituency in the hold of her family.

Chamundeshwari, the constituency named after the Goddess that presides over Mysuru, is getting ready for a David versus Goliath battle. Chief Minister S Siddaramiah and JD(S) leader G T Devegowda — both titans in their own right — are pitted against each other. The BJP has decided to field a lesser known candidate, Gopal Rao, who has not contested an election of this magnitude earlier. The BJP’s move may be targeted at defeating Siddaramaiah.

Contributions by Shivarjanjini S, Basavaraj Maralihalli, Ranganath Krishnaswamy, Y Maheshwar Reddy, Ravi Naraboli and M Raghuram, who are all members of 101reporters.com, a pan-India organisation of grassroots reporters.


Updated Date: Apr 21, 2018 17:52 PM

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