Siddaramaiah Stamp, Some Surprises in Congress Candidates’ List for Karnataka Elections

Bengaluru: Finally the Congress list is out. For the first time, the ruling party has declared candidates for 219 seats at one go. Names for remaining five seats are likely to be decided by Monday evening.

The list has the stamp of chief minister Siddaramaiah all over it. He seems to have fought tooth and nail for his supporters and has managed to accommodate most of them.The sub-regional satraps in the state Congress M Mallikarjuna Kharge, D K Shivakumar and KPCC president Dr G Parameshwara have also managed to secure nominations for some of their supporters.
Siddaramaiah is contesting only from Chamundeshwari in Mysore district and his son Dr Yatheendra is contesting from neighbouring Varuna seat currently held by his father.

According to top level sources, the Congress President Rahul Gandhi advised the chief minister to contest from only one seat fearing a negative publicity. Earlier, Siddaramaiah was planning to contest also from Badami in north Karnataka district of Bagalkote.

Despite stiff opposition from within the party, Siddaramaiah has managed to field 10 MLA s who defected to Congress from JDS, BJP and a local party. Giving tickets to “outsiders” had led to a war within the party and it had delayed the release of list by two days.

According to party sources, they had conducted four different surveys before giving tickets to the candidates.

“Winnability is the only criteria. The strong candidates who have the backing of caste, money and acceptability have been given tickets,” said a senior leader.

Controversial businessman Ashok Kheny, against whom the same Siddaramaiah government had ordered an inquiry in the billion dollars NICE scam, has been fielded from Bidar South. In 2013, he had won on Karnataka Makkala Paksha ticket.

In Bengaluru city the party is yet to decide on renominating sitting MLA N A Haris from Shanthinagara. His son Mohammad Nalapad’s brutal attack on a youth at a pub has put his nomination on hold.

In Belgaum district’s Kittur, the party is yet to decide on renomination of veteran MLA D B Inamdar.

The mayor of Bengaluru, Sampathraj, has been given ticket from C V Raman Nagara reserved seat for the SCs. Currently, the seat is held by the BJP.

Sampathraj’s predecessor Padmavathi has been fielded against BJP veteran S Sureshkumar in Rajajinagara. Home minister R Ramalingareddy’s daughter Soumya Reddy is contesting from posh Jayanagara in south Bengaluru.

The law minister T B Jayachandra has managed to secure nomination for his son Santhosh Jayachandra from Chikkanayakanahalli in Tumkur district. The seven-time Kolar MP and former Union minister K H Muniyappa’s daughter Roopa Shashidhar will be contesting from Kolar Gold Fields.

Two octogenarians, revenue minister Kagodu Thimmappa (86) from Sagara and Shamanur Shivashankarappa (89) from Davanagere, have also been renominated keeping their personal clout in their respective seats.

The party seems to have taken the complex caste and sub-caste calculations into account before finalising the list.

About 40 Lingayats have made it to the list and around 25 Vokkaligas have also been given tickets. There are 15 Muslims, 15 women, seven sitting MLCs and all five sitting Brahmin MLAs have also been renominated.

The Other Backward Classes have got over 50 seats and the smaller upper castes like Kodavas, Bunts and Vaishyas have also got five seats. The two sitting Christian MLAs have been renominated and the lone Jain MLA has also been renominated.

For the first time, the Congress has given tickets to 15 women candidates in the state. Among them two are widows, whose husbands were MLA s in the outgoing Assembly.

Siddaramaiah seems to have managed to pacify both “right hand” Dalits and “left hand” Dalits by accommodating all sub-castes among the Scheduled Castes.

In BJP leader B Sriramulu’s area of influence Bellary, Congress has fielded two BJP defectors on party ticket to settle score with mining mafia barons Reddy brothers.

Siddaramaiah has also fielded strong candidates against former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda’s sons H D Kumaraswamy and H D Revanna in Channapatna and Holenarasipura constituencies respectively.

Transport minister H M Revanna is taking on Kumaraswamy and state government employees’ association president Manje Gowda is contesting against H D Revanna.

The list has also led to protests in some constituencies and the main opposition BJP is trying to exploit the situation. According to party sources, the BJP high command decided to withold the announcement of names for remaining 152 seats after the Congress list was released.

The BJP has already declared candidates for 72 seats last week. The JDS has declared candidates for 126 seats.

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