Karnataka BJP to propose Nirmala Sitharaman for Bangalore South, replace Pralhad Joshi in Dharwad Lok Sabha seat

Shankar Patil Munenakoppa instead of Joshi, Shettar for Dharwad, and Tejaswini Ananth Kumar as alternative for Bangalore South to be pitched.

ByAnusha Ravi Sood

Published Jan 28, 2024 | 8:10 PM Updated Jan 28, 2024 | 8:14 PM

File photo of Nirmala Sitharaman.

With the Lok Sabha elections months away, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is looking to replace several of its sitting MPs nationwide.

In Karnataka, under the leadership of state president BY Vijayendra, the party has managed to put its house seemingly in order ahead of the elections and also be one up over the Congress in the battle of perception.

With the efforts of former chief minister and Lingayat strongman BS Yediyurappa and Vijayendra’s initiatives bringing Jagadish Shettar — another former chief minister — back to the BJP, the father-son duo has firmly cemented its control — real and perceived — in the state unit.

Following the party’s abysmal performance in the Karnataka Assembly elections when he was sidelined, BS Yediyurappa — also a member of BJP’s Parliamentary Board — is set to have a more significant say in election management, candidate selection, and campaign strategies this time.

The Karnataka BJP is all set to recommend to the central leadership that some incumbent MPs need to be changed and replaced as candidates.

Related: Bag all 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, BSY urges Karnataka BJP

The Bangalore South equation

Out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka, the BJP has 25. One independent MP — Sumalatha from Mandya — has pledged support to the party. Meanwhile, the JD(S) — whose Prajwal Revanna is an MP from Hassan — is now an alliance partner of the BJP.

The proposal is to change incumbent MPs in Bangalore South, Dharwad, Belagavi, and Haveri, currently held by BJYM president Tejasvi Surya, Union minister Pralhad Joshi, Mangal Angadi, and Shivkumar Udasi, respectively.

Sources close to BS Yediyurappa told South First that discussions were underway to propose fielding Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman from the Bangalore South constituency.

“She is already a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka. She has a house in Jayanagar, which falls under the constituency. She is an experienced administrator and a strong woman candidate,” the source from BS Yediyurappa’s camp said.

Tejaswini Ananth Kumar — the wife of late Ananth Kumar, a former Union minister — is another choice for the seat.

Tejaswini was in the running for the seat in 2019 as well, but lost the ticket to Tejasvi Surya, a debutant MP. He was backed by BJP national general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh as the candidate from Bangalore South, thwarting Tejaswini’s chances.

Related: Why Jagadish Shettar’s return gives BSY dominance over BL Santhosh

More setbacks for Santhosh?

Pralhad Joshi

Pralhad Joshi. (Supplied)

With Yediyurappa gaining the upper hand in the state’s affairs within the party, the Karnataka BJP is also looking to propose Jagadish Shettar’s name for the Belagavi (Belgaum) Lok Sabha seat.

Shettar is said to have expressed interest in contesting from the Dharwad seat, currently held by Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi.

The Karnataka BJP team, however, is set to propose the name of former Karnataka minister and Yediyurappa’s confidante Shankar Patil Munenakoppa for Dharward.

Joshi, too, was seen as close to BL Santhosh when Yediyurappa was sidelined during the Karnataka Assembly elections.

For the Haveri seat, the state unit is looking at former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai. The senior Lingayat leader has been sulking since he was denied the post of the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

Bommai’s son Bharath Bommai also contemplated contesting from Haveri since its incumbent MP Shivkumar Udasi announced that he wouldn’t contest the 2024 polls.

Following discussions, Basavaraj Bommai is said to have expressed interest in contesting from Haveri.

Another Union minister and Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, is also keen on contesting the Lok Sabha elections.

“He wants to contest from Bangalore Central, but he should go to Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and win a seat for the BJP in that state,” opined a senior Karnataka BJP leader.

“Let him take on Shashi Tharoor there and win a seat in Kerala,” said the leader.

PC Mohan of the BJP currently holds the Bangalore Central seat.

Also Read: The importance of being BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka BJP

Central leadership, BSY to decide

“Lots of discussions and proposals may be there, but the ultimate decision will lie with the central leadership in consultation with Yediyurappa,” said the aforementioned senior leader.

“Amit Shah is expected to visit Karnataka in mid-February. New election in-charges have been appointed only now. There is a structure to be followed,” said the leader, careful to specifically mention Yediyurappa’s role in the decision-making process this election cycle.

The leader also noted that fielding Nirmala Sitharaman in 2024 might not work well for the BJP since her tenure in the Rajya Sabha lasts four more years: She was elected to the Upper House of Parliament in July 2022.

“We won’t like to lose a Rajya Sabha member whose tenure is still a long way to go,” the leader said, confident that she would win if she were fielded from Bangalore South.