Karnataka polls: Nomination deadline scurry sees several prominent names on parties' final candidate lists replaced

Bengaluru: With the deadline for filing nominations to the Karnataka Assembly elections passed, the Election Commission has received over 3,000 applications for the 225 seats in contention. But as some hopeful candidates would tell you, there is many a slip between the party's candidate list and who gets to meet the Returning Officer (RO).

Among the more prominent candidates who were replaced even after their names had appeared on the candidates-list are Dr Devraj Patil, who had to make way for chief minister Siddaramaiah in Badami, and actor Ambareesh in Mandya, who played hard-to-get with the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) leadership.

MH Ambareesh, a three-time member of Parliament from Mandya and its serving MLA, is a towering figure in the region, despite being infamous as an absentee member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). While his name was announced in the KPCC's official candidate list, he seemed reluctant to contest. It is understood that he was still smarting from being dropped from Siddaramaiah's cabinet, where he held the housing portfolio.

 Karnataka polls: Nomination deadline scurry sees several prominent names on parties final candidate lists replaced

Congress president Rahul Gandhi taking a selfie with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah during his Karnataka visit. Image source: Facebook/Siddaramaiah.official

A high political drama unfolded over the weekend as he refused to meet the chief minister in Mysore after keeping him waiting and went incommunicado all Monday, 23 April, with supporters and party leaders unable to reach him. Even as late as Tuesday, the last day for filing nominations, KPCC president G Parameshwara attempted to reach out to him but he reportedly refused to turn up for the meeting. Finally, at the eleventh hour, Congress decided to field Ravikumar Ganiga as their candidate from Mandya.

HS Chandramouli, Congress' initial choice from Madikeri was dropped after it was reported that he was PNB-scam accused and fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi's lawyer. AL Pushpa was also dropped as the Congress candidate from Jagalur after protests by sitting legislator HP Rajesh's supporters. She is now contesting the seat as an independent candidate. Other Congress candidates who found themselves 'replaced' are B Nanjamari (Tiptur), MR Seetharam (Malleswaram) and Gurappa Naidu (Padmanabha Nagar).

In the Kolar Gold Field (SC) seat, BJP will field S Ashwini, daughter of the former MLA Y Sampangi, and the third generation from the family to contest from the seat. Party leaders were unhappy that Y Sampangi, while seeking a party ticket for himself, had kept a pending corruption case against him a secret. Sampangi, a native of Anekal in Bengaluru rural, won the Assembly elections from KGF in 2008 on a BJP ticket. He was caught 'red handed' while accepting a bribe at the Legislators' Home in Bengaluru by the Lokayukta in 2009 and the case is still pending in court.

During the 2013 elections, the BJP in a bid to save face nominated Sampangi's mother Y Ramakka as its candidate from KGF. She won the election defeating the JD(S) candidate. Meanwhile, S Ashwini contested the Zila Panchayat elections and won against long-time Kolar MP KH Muniyappa's daughter, Roopa Shashidhar. Though there was stiff opposition to nominating Sampangi as BJP candidate, the party leadership initially cleared his name. But owing to pressure from various quarters and embarrassed by the criminal case against him, they switched the candidate.

In Chikkaballapur district, high drama prevailed on 23 April when the JD(S) legislator M Rajanna was preparing to file his nomination papers from Sidlaghatta Assembly constituency. Rajanna, who was elected to the state Assembly in 2013 after defeating former minister V Muniyappa of the Congress, was hoping to get party's nod for his candidature. In fact, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy had announced Rajanna's candidature last month at party conventions in Bengaluru and Sidlaghatta. The party had given him the B form to be submitted to the RO with his nomination papers.

Siddaramaiah with Rahul Gandhi during the latter's Karnataka visit. Image source: Facebook/ Siddaramaiah.official

Siddaramaiah with Rahul Gandhi during the latter's Karnataka visit. Image source: Facebook/Siddaramaiah.official

However, another strong contender BM Ravikumar of Melur reportedly got a call from the party supremo HD Deve Gowda late Sunday night asking to meet him. When Ravikumar went to Bengaluru around midnight, he was given both the B form as well as the C form and asked to submit his nomination. Ravikumar, who was planning to file his papers as rebel candidate, was on cloud nine when he submitted the nomination form to the RO. In response, Rajanna staged a dharna and criticised the party high command for not re-nominating him.

Varuna Assembly constituency in Mysuru, which was already in news for the political debut of the chief minister's son, Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah, witnessed a minor earthquake on the last date to file nominations. Although the BJP hadn't officially announced their candidate for the seat, it was understood that Varuna would be the stage for the 'battle of the sons', with party workers vociferously supporting the candidature of BY Vijayendra, son of the former chief minister and BJP state supremo, BS Yeddyurappa.

With its huge Lingayat population, apparently eager to vote in one of their own, Varuna seemed the perfect launchpad for Vijayendra. He was all set to file his nomination on Monday when it became obvious that the BJP central leadership was opposed to his candidacy. Their reason was that it smacked of the very nepotism that the BJP routinely accuses the Congress of.

Vijayendra's supporters were furious and, despite Yeddyurappa's pleas to accept the decision, briefly rioted. But the party stood firm and chose Thotadappa T Basavaraj as its candidate in Varuna. Vijayendra was given the post of state general secretary of the BJP Yuva Morcha as a sop.

Yeddyurappa's supporters in the party blamed union minister Ananthkumar, a rival faction leader, for blocking Vijayendra's candidature. In disgust, several BJP supporters from the  Lingayat community joined the Congress in the presence of Dr Yathindra.

Shivaranjini S is in Mysuru and Ranganath Krishnaswamy in Kolar. Both independent journalists are members of  101reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.

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Updated Date: Apr 27, 2018 11:50:27 IST