After much deliberations and delays, the BJP announced its first list of candidates for the 10 May Karnataka Assembly elections.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will contest from his home constituency of Shiggaon.
Balancing caste equations, the BJP’s list denied tickets to eight incumbent MLAs — including incumbent minister S Angara.
Two incumbents — BS Yediyurappa and Halady Srinivas Shetty — had already announced their retirement from electoral politics.
Yediyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra, however, has been announced as the BJP candidate from Shikaripura.
Seats previously held by two late MLAs — Anand Mamani and Umesh Katti — have been given to their respective kin.
Incumbent minister B Sriramulu has been given a change of constituency and is set to contest from Bellary (ST) instead of Molakalmuru.
The list for 189 constituencies has eight women candidates but not a single Muslim.
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Somanna, Ashok to contest from 2 seats
Incumbent ministers V Somanna and R Ashok will contest from two seats.
Lingayat leader Somanna will contest from Chamarajanagar and take on Congress Legislative Party leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah from Varuna.
Minister and Vokkaliga leader R Ashok will contest from his constituency of Padmanabhanagar in Bengaluru and also take on KPCC president DK Shivakumar from the Kanakapura Assembly seat.
Despite its leadership’s criticism of “family politics” and “dynasty politics”, at least 10 candidates featured in the first list are kin of incumbent or former political leaders.
The list also features the Jarkiholi brothers Balachandra and Ramesh, the Katti uncle and nephew Ramesh and Nikhil, and kin of BJP MPs like Shashikala Jolle and Dr Avinash Jadav.
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BJP says list boosts ‘fresh faces’
Union Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan, who is also the Karnataka election in-charge, announced the first list of 189 candidates.
The tickets were announced in the presence of BJP national general secretary Arun Singh, who is also the Karnataka BJP unit in-charge, and other national leaders.
BJP leaders insist that the list has 52 fresh faces including former IAS officer Anil Kumar, and former IPS officer Bhaskar Rao.
The first list has been announced after three days of marathon meetings by the BJP.
The party also had a BJP Parliamentary Board meeting under the headship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10 April.
ನವ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದದಿಂದ ನವ ಭಾರತವನ್ನು ನಿರ್ಮಿಸಲು ಮತ್ತು ಸಮಗ್ರ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಸರ್ವಾಂಗೀಣ ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿಗಾಗಿ @BJP4Karnatakaದ 189 ಸಮರ್ಥ ಅಭ್ಯರ್ಥಿಗಳನ್ನು ಅಂತಿಮಗೊಳಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ. ರಾಜ್ಯದೆಲ್ಲೆಡೆ ಡಬಲ್ ಇಂಜಿನ್ ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ಆಡಳಿತದ ಪರವಾದ ವಾತಾವರಣವಿದ್ದು, ಈ ಬಾರಿ ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣ ಬಹುಮತದ ಸರ್ಕಾರವನ್ನು ನಾವು ರಚಿಸಲಿದ್ದೇವೆ.
— Basavaraj S Bommai (@BSBommai) April 11, 2023
The party has not announced the candidates for as many as 35 seats, including Hubballi-Dharwad Central, Shivamogga, Channagiri, Davanagere North, Gangavathi, and Haveri.
Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai will be contesting from his traditional Assembly seat Shiggaon.
Most of the sitting MLAs have managed to get tickets, with the party playing it safe and unwilling to upset caste and cadre equations.
The high command also left senior leaders including former chief minister Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi surprised, leaving out their names from the list.
While Shettar is off to Delhi to fight for his seat Hubballi-Dharwad Central, Savadi will have to sit it out at the Athani seat since the party has announced Ramesh Jarkiholi’s confidant Mahesh Kumathalli as its candidate.
The party is yet to announce candidates for seats currently held by senior leaders like Aravind Limbavali and Ramdas.
The party has also not announced a ticket for Shivamogga, which is represented by former minister KS Eshwarappa, especially after he wrote to BJP president JP Nadda announcing his “retirement” from electoral politics.
The party has also given a ticket to 76-year-old GH Thippareddy from the Chitradurga assembly seat. He is the oldest leader from the BJP to contest in the Assembly polls.
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Son-rise on the cards?
In the first list of 189 candidates, the BJP is experimenting with new faces in as many as 52 seats.
Some of the places, especially in coastal Karnataka, where new faces have replaced incumbent MLAs, are considered “safe seats” for the BJP,
The objective there seems to be to provide a “new alternative” to offset anti-incumbency.
Yashpal Suvarna, who was the BJP’s face in the Hijab row, has been rewarded with a ticket from Udupi, replacing incumbent Raghupathi Bhat.
Karnataka BJP vice-president BY Vijayendra, who is the son of former chief minister Yediyurappa, will make his debut in electoral politics from his father’s constituency Shikaripura.
With the list, BJP has also ended all speculation of Vijayendra contesting from Varuna against Siddaramaiah.
Among the new faces, 11 have been fielded in the constituencies that have been represented currently by the BJP.
The party has given a ticket to Asha Thimappa from Puttur and dropped sitting MLA Sanjeev Matandoor.
Goolihatti Shekhar has been replaced by S Lingamurthy, Lalji Mendon has been replaced by Gurme Suresh Shetty.
Incumbent minister S Angara has been denied a ticket from Sullia, which is reserved for Scheduled Castes, and a ticket has been given to Bhagirathi Murulya.
Former IPS officer Bhaskar Rao, who quit the AAP to join the BJP, has been named for the Chamarajpet Assembly seat.
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When it comes to caste equations, the party has preferred Lingayats in 51 seats, where 14 are from the influential Panchamasali community, 41 are Vokkaligas, and the Kurubas have tickets for seven seats.
The party has also given tickets to eight women in Nippani (represented by incumbent minister Shashikala Jolle), Saudatti Yellamma, Karwar, Sandur (ST), Nagamangala, Hiriyur, Sullia (SC), and Puttur.
Of the total 189 candidates, the BJP claims to have 32 candidates from OBCs, 30 from Scheduled Castes, and 16 from Scheduled Tribes.
Karnataka has 36 reserved seats for SC candidates, and 15 for ST candidates.
Incumbent minister Govind Karjol will contest from his traditional seat Mudhol (SC).
The party is fielding 1987-batch IAS officer BH Anil Kumar from Koratagere (SC).
Incumbent minister B Sriramulu has returned to his traditional seat Bellary Rural (ST). He represented the segment twice — in 2008 and 2013. He had won Chitradurga’s Molakalmuru seat in the 2018 Assembly polls.
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Though there were reports of the prime minister being reluctant to give tickets to new faces, the party seems to have compromised with its anti-dynasty-politics stand when it comes to giving tickets to the children and relatives of senior party leaders.
The party has given a ticket to Ramesh Katti from Chikkodi-Sadalga and Nikhil Katti from Hukkeri. They are brother and son, respectively, of former minister Umesh Katti, who passed away recently.
Incumbent minister Shashikala Jolle got a ticket from Nippani; her husband is Chikkodi MP Annasaheb Jolle.
Ramesh Jarkiholi and Balachandra Jarkiholi have got tickets from their traditional Gokak and Arabhavi Assembly seats, respectively.
Incumbent MLA Dr Avinash Jadhav, who is the son of Kalaburagi MP Umesh Jadhav, has got a ticket from Chincholi (SC).
Also read: Legislators, caste leaders quit BJP ahead of Karnataka polls
Taking on Siddaramaiah, Shivakumar
In a surprise move, incumbent ministers V Somanna and R Ashok are the only two senior leaders from the party who have been fielded from two Assembly seats each.
Lingayat leader Somanna will contest from Mysuru’s Varuna and Chamarajanagar. He will be contesting against CLP leader Siddaramaiah in Varuna, which is the latter’s home constituency.
However, the party has not announced the ticket for the Govindraj Nagar seat. Somanna is demanding a ticket for his son from his segment.
Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashok will be contesting from Kanakapura and his traditional Padmanabhanagar seat.
He will be contesting against KPCC president DK Shivakumar from Kanakapura.
Both are senior Vokkaliga leaders in the old-Mysore region.
Both the BJP senior leaders have welcomed the party’s decision and said that they would ensure the defeat of both the Congress leaders.
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Protests from dissenting camps
Within hours of the BJP announcing its first list of candidates, protests were witnessed in several parts of Karnataka from supporters of leaders who lost out on seats.
KS Eshwarappa’s supporters staged a roadblock and protested in Shivamogga against his decision to withdraw from electoral politics.
In Bengaluru, supporters of NR Ramesh gathered by the dozens and shouted slogans in his support after the BJP denied him a ticket from the Jayanagar constituency.
Supporters of Belagavi North incumbent MLA Anil Benake also staged protests over the party denying him a ticket.