Congress first list of candidates for Karnataka polls retains incumbents; Siddaramaiah returns to Varuna

Four-time MLC Puttanna, former BJP MLA KS Kiran Kumar and former JD(S) MLA Madhu Bangarappa get tickets from Rajajinagar, Chikkanayakanahalli and Sorab, respectively.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Mar 25, 2023 | 1:11 PMUpdated Mar 25, 2023 | 1:11 PM

Congress first list of candidates for Karnataka polls retains incumbents; Siddaramaiah returns to Varuna

All India Congress Committee (AICC) released its first list of 124 candidates for the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections on Saturday, 25 March — and the big takeaway is former chief minister Siddaramaiah returning to his home turf of Varuna.

The list has largely retained incumbent MLAs, with the addition of a few new names — some from within the Congress and others from among those who have recently joined from rival parties.

The first list comprises names of candidates for only 124 out of the 224 Assembly seats. The candidates for the remaining 100 Assembly segments will be declared in the second list.

The Congress looks at the first list as its “sure-shot” candidates — those absolutely sure of victory and those who are lone aspirants from the Congress in that particular seat, with no competition.

The Election Commission is yet to announce the schedule for Assembly polls in the southern state. The elections in Karnataka are slated before May, when the tenure of the current Assembly ends.

KPCC president DK Shivakumar will be contesting from Kanakapura Assembly seat.

The other senior leaders who featured in the first list are: MLAs Dr G Parameshwara from Koratagere (SC), HK Patil from Gadag, Ramalinga Reddy from BTM Layout, KR Ramesh Kumar from Srinivaspura, MB Patil from Bableshwar, Laxmi Hebbalkar from Belagavi, and Satish Jarkiholi from Yemkanmaradi.

Congress veteran and former Union Minister KH Muniyappa has been fielded from Devanahalli (SC), despite protests from the local Congress cadres against his candidature.

KPCC Communication Chairman and MLA Priyank Kharge, who is the son of AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge, will contest from his incumbent seat of Chittapura (SC), and Madhu Bangarappa, son of former chief minister Sarekoppa Bangarappa, will contest from Sorab.

Four-time MLC Puttanna, who recently quit the BJP, got the ticket to contest from the Rajajinagar Assembly seat.

The party did not announce candidates for many key seats, including the likes of Kolar, Badami, Chikkaballapura, Bijapura City, Yesvanthapura, and Shiggaon, which is represented by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, in its first list.

Related: Prominent SC Left leaders join Congress ahead of polls

Selection process this time

Karnataka’s Congress unit had invited applications from those aspiring to contest in the 224 Assembly segments in November 2022. The aspirants, including incumbent MLAs, had to mandatorily pay non-refundable ₹2 lakh as a fee, apart from ₹5,000 for the application form.

The response was overwhelming, with over 1,250 aspirants applying for tickets, helping the Congress add a significant ₹25 crore to the party funds.

After nearly two months of making aspirants and people to wait, the grand old party has ended the suspense around many assembly segments in its first list announced on Saturday.

The party’s Central Election Committee had cleared the first list of candidates after a meeting in Delhi on 17 March. The committee is chaired by AICC head Mallikarjun Kharge. Rahul Gandhi was also present at the meeting.

Related: Congress on a statewide bus tour with charge sheet against BJP

High command nod for Siddaramaiah’s wish

AICC has managed put an end to the confusion around Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah’s candidature by fielding him from the Varuna Assembly seat, as per his wish.

Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah, younger son of the CLP leader, is the incumbent MLA from Mysuru’s Varuna Assembly seat. Siddaramaiah represented this seat for two consecutive terms in 2008 and 2013.

Siddaramaiah has said that he is thinking of contesting from a second Assembly seat.

“People from over 25 Assembly seats, including Kolar and Badami, have approached me — asking me to contest from their constituencies in upcoming Assembly polls,” he said.

“As per the law, I am allowed to contest from two Assembly seats. I will hold talks with the party high command and the final decision lies with them,” Siddaramaiah said in Badami on Friday.

Congress sources have told South First that the former chief minister could contest from one more than one Assembly seat — either from Badami or Kolar. The first list of candidates does not have either of these seats.

On Siddaramaiah contesting from Varuna, KPCC president D K Shivakumar said: “We had given an option to Siddaramaiah to decide from which Assembly seats he would contesting. He had applied for Varuna. He ultimately agreed to contest in Varuna seat.”

“Siddaramaiah himself had expressed willingness to contest from Varuna. As per his wish, the Congress high command has given him the ticket. The party high command will take a final call on Siddaramaiah contesting from a second seat,” Shivakumar said when asked why candidates for Badami and Kolar were not .

Tickets for Puttanna, Kiran Kumar, Darshan Dhruvanarayan

Four-time former MLC Puttanna, who quit the BJP and pledged allegiance to the Congress, has managed to get a ticket from Rajajinagar Assembly seat. He used to represent Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural and Ramanagara teacher’s segment in the Council.

The other leaders who got tickets are former BJP MLA KS Kiran Kumar, who was a staunch loyalist of former chief minister BS Yediyurappa. He has got the ticket from Tumakuru’s Chikkanayakanahalli Assembly seat, while former JD(S) MLA Madhu Bangarappa has been fielded from Shivamogga’s Sorab seat, which is currently represented by his brother Kumara Bangarappa  of the BJP.

Darshan Dhruvanarayan, who is the son of late Congressman Dhruvanarayan, has been given the ticket from Najangudu (SC).

On giving a ticket to Puttanna, Shivakumar told reporters: “He was still left with a four-year tenure, but chose to join Congress by sacrificing his Legislative Council seat. So, we have given him an opportunity.”

“We want a younger generation to come up. The ticket was decided for Dhruvanarayan but he is no more with us. We consulted his son and decided to field him from Najanagudu (SC) seat,” added Shivakumar.

“About 95 percent of sitting MLAs will get tickets in the polls. We are holding conciliation meetings in some seats. Everything will be sorted out and the second list will be released at the earliest,” he added.