Karnataka Assembly Election 2018: BJP’s second list of candidates brings more heartburn across state

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday released its second list of candidates for the Karnataka Assembly election to be held on 12 May

Team 101Reporters April 17, 2018 10:39:16 IST
Karnataka Assembly Election 2018: BJP’s second list of candidates brings more heartburn across state

Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday released its second list of candidates for the Karnataka Assembly election to be held on 12 May. The second list containing 82 names, adding on to the 72 names announced in the first list on 9 April, has left many candidates yearning for clarity in the process of distribution of tickets. The party is yet to finalise candidates for the remaining 70 Assembly seats.

The names on the second list include G Somashekara Reddy (Bellary City), brother of tainted mining baron G Janardhan Reddy, former tainted ministers like Katta Subramanya Naidu (Shivajinagar), Murugesh Nirani (Bilgi), and MP Renukarcharya (Honnali), who was sacked by the party leadership during its previous tenure. While Naidu and his son were arrested in connection with a land-grabbing case during the BJP’s previous tenure, Nirani, who held the medium and large-scale industries portfolio during BS Yeddyurappa's tenure as chief minister, lost his sugar factory when it was seized by the government because it had been pilfering electricity. However, he is also one of the financiers of the BJP.

Somashekhar Reddy is also facing charges of offering bribe to Justice Pattabhiram of the Hyderabad CBI court in order to get bail for his brother Janardhan. BJP has, however, maintained suspense over the ticket from Harapanahalli segment, where former minister and another Reddy brother G Karunakar Reddy is a strong aspirant.

The saffron party has not altered its spread of candidates in North Karnataka much, except a few changes like Anil Menasinakai replacing Shrishailappa Biradar in Gadag, Saibanna Borband to contest from Gurumitkal in place of Girish Mattenanavar, and Rajagopal Reddy being replaced by Chandrakanth Patil in Kalaburagi constituency. Menasinakai had contested from the BSR Congress of B Sriramulu in 2013.

Mahesh Tenginakai is a new face in the Kalaghatagi seat of Dharwad district instead of MC Nimbannanvar, who had contested as a member of Yeddyurappa's KJP against mining baron and labour minister Santosh Lad, who was then with BJP, but is now with the Congress.

Karnataka Assembly Election 2018 BJPs second list of candidates brings more heartburn across state

Representational image. Reuters

District committees ignored?

There was disappointment in many districts, including a few in North Karnataka, Old Mysuru and Malnad, as the BJP appears to have ignored the absence of anti-incumbency against the Siddaramaiah government in Karnataka this time. In many key constituencies, party workers expressed their disappointment and suspicion that the Central committee did not consider recommendations of the district committees seriously before finalising the candidates.

Among the incidents that expose this tendency are nomination of Umanath Kotian from Moodbidri constituency in Dakshina Kannada district against the district committee’s choice of Jagadish Adhikari. Kotian had lost against Congress heavyweight Abhayachandra in 2013 by 4,000 votes. In another case, re-fielding MP Renukacharya from Honnali constituency has left workers perplexed, as he was caught in a sleaze video scandal after the 2008 elections.

In Indi taluk of Bijapur, the nomination of district vice-president Dayasagar Patil came as a rude shock for former JD(S) MLA Ravikant Patil, who was the frontrunner for the ticket after having moved to the BJP recently. However, local BJP workers asserted that Ravikant’s allegedly "rowdy image" is to blame for the snub from the party higher-ups.

The BJP has selected Vasudeva Murthy, who defected from the JD(S), to contest from the Shantinagar Assembly segment represented by Congress incumbent NA Haris — whose son Mohammad Nalapad is in judicial custody for assaulting son of a Bengaluru businessman. Murthy had lost to Haris by a margin of 20,205 votes in the 2013 Assembly elections. Congress is yet to announce its candidate for Shantinagar, but Nalapad’s infamous incident is expected to help the BJP candidate.

Political analysts opine that Shantinagar will be a cakewalk for the BJP if Congress renominates Haris. But, Haris has been known for his work in the constituency, garnering appreciation from even TV Mohandas Pai.

Another interesting contest is on the cards between the BJP’s Katta Subramanya Naidu and Minister for Urban Development R Roshan Baig in the Shivajinagar segment of Bengaluru, which is represented by Baig. This tussle goes back to 1994 when Naidu, contesting on a BJP ticket, had lost the seat to Baig, who was in the JD(S) then, by 8,678 votes. In 1999 and 2004, Naidu won Shantinagar by defeating Congress candidates K Govindaraj and Haris, respectively. But Baig returned to win Shivajinagar in 2008 and 2013 against BJP candidate Nirmal Surana. Naidu had been shifted to Hebbal in 2008 where he defeated Congress candidate HM Revanna.

BJP's Nandiesh Reddy will face a tough task in KR Puram given the pro-development image of Congress candidate Byrathi Basavaraj in the constituency. S Ravindra is pitted against Minister for Housing M Krishnappa in Vijayanagar. A Ravi is contesting against minister for agriculture Krishna Byregowda from Byatarayanapura assembly segment. Kumar Bangarappa got a ticket to contest from Soraba. NL Narendra Babu, who defected from the Congress, has been chosen to contest from Mahalakshmi Layout.

RSS keeps Belagavi disciplined

However, one district that hasn’t voiced any dissatisfaction with the two lists of BJP is Belagavi, where party workers and leaders have accepted the list of candidates so far. This discipline has been attributed to the presence of highly-motivated RSS leaders monitoring the situation. According to the RSS leadership, over 5,000 members of the saffron front and associated fringe groups will be arriving in the state batch-by-batch to polarise the Hindu votes. The last 15 days will be crucial for both major parties in the state.

In a surprise move, the BJP has allowed a husband-wife couple — industrialist Annasaheb Jolle and Nippani MLA Shashikala Jolle — to contest the elections. While Annasaheb will contest from Chikkodi-Sadalaga constituency, Shashikala will defend Nippani. It would be a first in the BJP’s history that the party is fielding a husband-wife duo in the same election from different constituencies.

Annasaheb will fight against sitting Congress MLA Ganesh Hukkeri, son of MP Prakash Hukkeri, who is a five-time MLA and has been a minister twice. Ganesh, who won Chikkodi by-election when his father had to resign to contest 2014 General Election, is said to be prioritising development work in the area with complete authority. The Hukkeri family is also involved in the movement demanding district status to Chikkodi. The Jolle family is from the Linagayat community and owns educational institutions and factories.

Ramanna Lamani, who got a ticket from the Shirahatti segment in Gadag, is dogged by a controversial audio clip of his conversations with women that went viral recently. Despite being against his candidature for this reason, the district committee had forwarded his name, as he is known for having a way with the local electorate. While BJP and Congress prepare for a faceoff, the third player, JD(S) is left with the Deve Gowda family alone as several of their close confidantes like Zameer Ahmed Khan have moved to other two parties. ASV Datta, who used to be the socialistic face of the JD(S) is enjoying quiet days in his comfort zone of Malnad.

M Raghuram, Y Maheshwara Reddy, Basavaraj Marlihalli, ​Lakshmi Bhavge, ​Shankar Gouda, Sadiq Nawaz, Tamanna Naseer and S Patil have contributed to this article. All are members of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters

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