Karnataka parties fight hard to select candidates for Assembly bypolls

The date for filing nominations for the bypolls are from November 11-18. The election results will be announced on December 9 | PTI

Even as the filing of nominations to 15 legislative constituencies in Karnataka, which is set to go to polls on December 5, began on Monday (November 11), all the three major political parties — the Congress, the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — are yet to decide on their candidates.

While the BJP waits for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the plea of the disqualified MLAs, the Congress was divided on the selection of candidates. A section of its leaders were holding parallel talks with the rebels in the ruling BJP. Meanwhile, the JD(S), which was in coalition with the Congress, showed a mixed signal of supporting the BJP if it falls short of majority.

The poll process will pick up heat only after the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the disqualified MLAs’ petition challenging the Speaker’s decision. The bypolls are crucial test for the stability of the BJP government which should win at least eight of the 15 Assembly seats. The bypolls are equally important for the Congress which held 13 of these 15 seats and looks to retain all of the them.

The date for filing nominations for the bypolls are from November 11-18. The election results will be announced on December 9.

According to the Election Commission (EC), there are about 37.5 lakh voters in these 15 constituencies. The elections was earlier slated for October 21 but later postponed to December 5 as the case pertaining to the disqualified MLAs was pending in the top court.

Raju Kage, the BJP’s face in Kagwad, expressed his willingness to join the Congress since he is upset with his party as it’s most likely to give a ticket to disqualified MLA Srimanth Patil. Kage met senior Congress leaders on Sunday (November 10) and told the media that he will join the Congress on Tuesday and will be the party’s candidate from Kagwad.

In the recently leaked video, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa made a remark against the party workers in Kagwad for not backing the rebel candidate and that they are creating a sense of division. Kage, a staunch supporter of the BJP, was upset over Yediyurappa’s comment and had expressed his dissatisfaction immediately.

Prior to Kage expressing discontent, another BJP leader Sharath Bachegowda from Hosakote had to rebel and contest as an independent after his party backed Congress rebel MTB Nagaraj.

Also read | Disqualified Karnataka MLAs move SC for postponement of Dec 5 bypolls

The Congress leaders held a meeting on Monday to discuss the poll strategy as difference of opinion emerged among leaders like former chief minister Siddaramaiah, president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) Dinesh Gundu Rao, former Union Minister KH Muniyappa and Vokkaliga leader DK Shivakumar.

Senior leaders like BK Hariprasad, Rahman Khan and Muniyappa differed in their choice of candidate as selected by Siddaramaiah, most of whom were his loyals.

The Congress fights its own battle in Gokak from where its candidate Ramesh Jarkiholi got disqualified. While Jarkhiholi’s brother Satish who’s also a Congress MLA was hopeful that the party would give ticket to one of his other younger brother Lakhan Jarkiholi, former minister DK Shivakumar and his supporters were of different opinion.

They said fielding a candidate from the same family in different parties might not be good for Congress and that the ticket should be given to another candidate, Ashok Pujari.

Taking a dig at the BJP, state Congress working president Eshwar Khandre said the BJP was in a disarray and the Congress was confident of winning at least 12 of the 15 seats, considering the weakness shown by the BJP in recent months.

“Nothing is good in the BJP. Their own party workers are upset with the party as its leaders are backing rebels. The way they formed the government in the state was illegal and we will teach them a lesson,” Khandre said.

Also read | Siddaramaiah appointed leader of opposition in Karnataka Assembly