Karnataka polls: Congress adopts social justice mantra with first list

The party has dropped sitting MLAs from Harihar, Afjalpur, Kundgol, Sidlaghatta, and Pulakeshinagar constituencies.

Karnataka Assembly polls, candidates' list
A file photo of Karnataka Congress leaders.

The Congress’ first list of candidates for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections was announced on Saturday (March 25), and the party has given preference to Lingayats, Vokkaligas, and Muslims. This is being considered a strategic move.

It is aimed at wooing the Lingayat community, which had moved away from the Congress for many years. Also, the party is eyeing the Panchamasali vote base, which is unhappy with the BJP for not giving the 2A reservation status. Also, giving a hint about the party is not only AHINDA-based (minorities, backward class and Dalits) it backs social justice by including all communities.

The 124-candidate Congress list is out now and the remaining 100 will be announced in the coming week. The party has adopted the social justice mantra while picking the candidates.

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The first list consists 32 Lingayats, 25 Vokkaligas (including Reddys – 2 and Bunt – 1), 22 Scheduled Caste (SC) and 10 Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates. Also, 20 OBCs have been preferred including five Kurubas, five Edigas and several smaller backward class communities including Kumbara, Besta, and Rajput (one each). Nine Muslims and one Christian have also been named.

At the same time, sitting MLAs have been dropped from Harihar, Afjalpur, Kundgol, Sidlaghatta, and Pulakeshinagar constituencies.

Five tickets have been given to Brahmins including Dinesh Gundurao, S Ramesh Kumar, RV Deshpande (former ministers) and Anoop Ayyangar, and UB Venkatesh.

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Families get preference

At the same time, Congress has given preference to four father-son or -daughter duos in the list, which has been objected to by several ticket aspirants from their respective constituencies and they are unhappy over “family politics” being given importance.

M Krishnappa has been picked for the Vijayanagar constituency, Bengaluru, and his son Priya Krishna will again contest in the adjacent Govindaraja Nagar. Similarly, Ramalinga Reddy and his daughter Soumya Reddy will contest from Bengaluru’s BTM Layout and Jayanagar seats respectively.

Former Union minister KH Muniyappa and his daughter Roopa Shashidar were given tickets in Devanahalli and KGF, both SC-reserved constituencies. Shamanuru Shivashankarappa and his son SS Mallikarjun were picked for Davanagere South and Davanagere North.

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Also, relatives of Congress leaders have got the nod in the candidates’ list. Darshan Dhurvanarayan will contest from Nanjangud (SC reserve) constituency as his father, former MP and working president of KPCC, Dhruvanarayana was an aspirant in that constituency. Recently, he died of cardiac arrest, and the party has given the ticket to his son rewarding the work done by his late father in the constituency and also to cash in on the sympathy factor. Former Rajya Sabha MP and present opposition leader in the state Legislative Council BK Hariprasad’s elder brother (former Assistant Commissioner of Police Rakshit Shivaram) has been given a chance from the coastal Belthangady constituency.

Prominent faces

The most prominent faces, who are on the first list, are former CM Siddaramaiah, Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar, former KPCC chiefs Dr G Parameshwara, Dinesh Gundurao, and RV Deshpande. At 92 years, Shamanuru Shivashankarappa is the senior-most candidate in the first list.

Other key leaders are Muniyappa, former Speaker S Ramesh Kumar, and former ministers Ramananath Rai, Ramalinga Reddy, and MB Patil.

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Kusuma H, wife of former IAS officer DK Ravi has been given a ticket from the Rajarajeshwarinagar constituency. Ravi died by suicide, but the case was handed over to the CBI for investigation by the Siddaramaiah government after the Opposition BJP cried foul in it for the alleged involvement of former minister KJ George. Later, the CBI gave him a clean chit.

Former BJP leader UB Banakar, who joined the Congress again, was given a ticket, and ex-JD(S) leader Puttanna who recently switched to the grand old party, too figures on the list.

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