BJP leader V Somanna asks Amit Shah, JP Nadda for Rajya Sabha seat, charge of 3 Lok Sabha seats

The party has already drawn the curtains on Somanna’s aspirations to contest in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls from the Tumakuru constituency.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Jan 14, 2024 | 10:40 PMUpdatedJan 14, 2024 | 10:41 PM

V Somanna with Amit Shah and JP Nadda

In a significant development in the BJP’s Karnataka unit, veteran Lingayat leader V Somanna met the party high command and demanded a Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka as well as the responsibility of three Lok Sabha constituencies in the upcoming polls.

The development comes nearly a month after he announced he would meet the party high command to discuss his loss in two seats in the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections.

Somanna met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the party’s national president JP Nadda in Delhi on Saturday, 13 January, and Sunday, respectively.

He reportedly discussed other issues as well, including the appointment of Shikaripura MLA BY Vijayendra — son of former chief minister BS Yediyurappa — as the Karnataka BJP chief.

The party has already drawn the curtains on Somanna’s aspirations to contest in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls from the Tumakuru constituency.

Somanna has now asked the party high command to make him a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka. The tenure of four Rajya Sabha members from Karnataka will end on 2 April. Of the four seats, three are held by the Congress and one by the BJP.

They are the Congress’ Syed Nasser Hussain, L Hanumanthaiah, GC Chandrasekhar and the BJP’s Union Minister for Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

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The background

Ever since Somanna lost from the Varuna and Chamarajanagar Assembly constituencies in the 10 May Karnataka Assembly polls, the 72-year-old BJP veteran has not only been sulking but also fuming against a section of his party, including BJP Parliamentary Board member and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa.

He expressed his discontent publicly when the high command appointed Yediyurappa’s son and first-time MLA Vijayendra as the Karnataka BJP president.

Somanna was also an aspirant for the post. He had said then that he would discuss this with the party high command.

In an exclusive conversation with South First from Delhi, Somanna said: “I have met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and held talks for 30 minutes. I have demanded a Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka and the responsibility of three parliamentary constituencies.”

He added: “I do not know when the Rajya Sabha elections are being held. I have demanded the responsibility of three constituencies that the party deems difficult to crack for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. I believe that the party will honour my demands.”

Stating that Amit Shah expressed unhappiness about his Assembly poll performance, Somanna said: “He noted that I contested two seats on the directives of the high command, but the results did not go in the party’s favour. He reiterated that the party has high regard for me.”

He added: “After listening to my grievances, he assured me of providing responsibility in the party at the right time. I also spoke about the unexpected appointment of Vijayendra as the state president and related concerns. In response, he said that knew about all the developments in the state party affairs and had given instructions to those concerned to take everyone into confidence.”

He further said: “Shah has said that he will be coming to Bengaluru soon for three days. He will hold meetings with the state leaders on party affairs.”

Asked whether he spoke with Shah about his allegations that insiders conspired for his defeat in the Assembly seats, he said: “The high command knows all about what happened with me in the Assembly polls. Shah has recognised my 45 years of contribution to the party.”

Somanna also said: “I also met the party’s national president JP Nadda on Sunday. I also detailed everything to him. The high command treated me like a senior leader. I am confident that the party will address all the concerns. I would not like to comment anything more than this.”

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Makes U-turn

While the BJP high command has nixed Somanna’s aspirations of fighting the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from the Tumakuru constituency, Somanna claimed on Sunday that he never said he would contest Lok Sabha elections.

However, Somanna has been active in the Tumakuru Lok Sabha constituency over the last three months.

There were strong talks in the political circles that Somanna was planning to demand a ticket from Tumakuru for the Lok Sabha elections.

Even the JD(S), the alliance partner of the BJP, had stopped expressing its interest to contest from the Tumakuru seat, considering Somanna’s plans.

“The party carried out a survey for the Lok Sabha polls, and its result was not in favour of Somanna. This is one of the factors the party is not keen to field him. The high command clarified its stance before him as well,” a senior BJP leader told South First on condition of anonymity.

GS Basavaraju is the incumbent MP from the Tumakuru Lok Sabha constituency.

Asked whether he demanded a party ticket from the Tumakuru seat, Somanna said: “I never said that I would contest in the Lok Sabha polls from Tumakuru. I have only demanded a Rajya Sabha seat and the responsibility of three constituencies.”