With hardly six weeks left for the 10 May Karnataka Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to announce its candidates and is still busy carrying out the process of finalising the list for all 224 Assembly segments.
On the other hand, the Congress and the JD(S) have released their first list of candidates for 124 and 93 Assembly segments, respectively.
The BJP high command is expected to chair the Central Parliamentary Board meeting on 8 April to finalise the candidates for the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls.
According to sources in the BJP, the party’s high command is likely to release the first list of candidates, where nominees for a few seats are likely to be announced later — on or before 12 April.
On the directions of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Karnataka’s BJP units — District Core Committees — finished collecting ground reports and opinions from the party workers on the incumbent MLAs and aspirants in all the 224 assembly seats on 31 March and 2 April.
Party workers to choose candidates
In a unique approach to finalising the candidates for the Assembly seats, the BJP high command has asked the party workers to opt for the suitable candidate for their respective seats by exercising their franchise at the district party headquarters.
The state party unit formed over 20 District Core Committees. Each committee was comprised of three members (a core committee member, a local parliamentarian, and the local tall leader of the party). Every committee was asked to visit the district headquarters to collect the ground report and opinion.
The committee held not only an election within the party but also a meeting with district party office bearers about the opinion of the people on the incumbent MLA and ticket aspirants. These 15 committees will submit a detailed report to the high command.
While the polling was going on to finalise the candidates, verbal spats were witnessed between supporters of aspirants in a few Assembly seats, including in Belagavi’s Athani Assembly seat.
The tussle was witnessed between the supporters of incumbent MLA Mahesh Kumatahalli, who had won the seat on a Congress ticket in the 2018 Assembly polls, and BJP state vice-president and MLC Laxman Savadi, who is also an aspirant from the same seat.
“After completing the poll process to finalise the candidates for all the Assembly seats, two-three aspirants have been finalised in over 90 seats, and there is only one aspirant in over 60 seats,” claimed sources in the party. In many Assembly seats, there are five-six or more aspirants.
Incumbent Minister for Housing and Infrastructure Development V Somanna, who represents Govindraj Nagara, is apparently also an aspirant from Chamarajanagar.
The BJP, which frequently hits out at the Congress and the JD(S) over dynasty politics, has seen something similar in at least three Assembly seats. Senior BJP leaders, including Govind Karjol and MTB Nagaraj, have sought tickets for their sons.
Two-time former MLC Arun Shahpur, who was also part of the committee, told South First: “The decision from the party high command to collect ground reports and opinions from the party workers on the incumbent MLAs and aspirants shows how much the party gives importance to their party workers.”
He added: “It is not the first time the party has entrusted the responsibility to its workers, unlike other parties, to select the suitable candidates for their respective seats. This has been practised for many years.”
Shahpur also said: “We have been told to submit a detailed report on this process including the list of aspirants (elected by the party workers) to the state core committee. It will submit the final report to the Parliamentary board committee to finalise the candidates for the assembly segments.”
On the announcement of the candidate’s list, Incumbent Minister for Water Resources Govind Karjol told South First: “The party will announce the candidate’s list either on or before 12 April. In a few constituencies, the announcement of candidates might take till the last date of the nomination process.”
Karjol said that most of the incumbent MLAs would get a ticket for the 2023 Assembly polls.
BJP Parliamentary Board meet on 8 April
On the BJP Parliamentary Board meeting, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters: “The board meeting is likely to be chaired on 8 April to finalise the list of BJP candidates for the 10 May Karnataka Assembly elections.”
He added: “The party already has the survey report of each constituency, but it has sought the opinion of each District Core Committee on shortlisted candidates. We will discuss the names recommended by the district committees during the State Core Committee meeting on Tuesday.”
Bommai also said: “Then [we will] send it to the Central Parliamentary Board. The Parliamentary Board is likely to meet on April 8 where the names will be finalised after discussion.”
The Parliamentary Board is the BJP’s highest decision-making body. Karnataka BJP strongman and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa is a member of the board.
Bommai indicated that there was strong competition to get a BJP ticket to contest the polls.