Karnataka MLC elections: Fight to reward loyalty in Congress, reject ‘rehabilitation’ in BJP

Considering the MLA strength of each party in the house, Congress will likely contest in seven seats, BJP in three and JD(S) in one seat.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 29, 2024 | 8:00 AMUpdatedMay 29, 2024 | 8:00 AM

File photo of a Congress rally

They may be fighting against each other in polls, but workers of BJP and Congress have something in common for the upcoming elections for the 11 seats of the Karnataka Legislative Council.

Ahead of the 13 June elections, workers of Congress and BJP have demanded that their party leadership prioritise local, loyal and intellectual aspirants instead of outsiders and senior leaders’ kith and kin or treat it as a chance to rehabilitate leaders who have lost elections.

The election is necessitated as the term of 11 sitting members is ending on 17 June.

The 11 MLCs will be elected by the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). In the state Assembly, Congress has 135 MLAs, BJP has 67, JD(S) has 19, and Sarvodaya Karnataka Paksha has one. There is also an independent MLA.

Considering the MLA strength of each party in the house, Congress will contest in seven seats, BJP in three and JD(S) in one seat, claimed sources.

Following the initiation of the nomination process, political parties are busy shortlisting their candidates for the biennial elections.

As the selection process is underway, ticket aspirants in the BJP and the Congress have intensified lobbying.

The BJP has sent a shortlist to the high command with at least three to four names for each of the three seats.

Also Read: ‘We have to convert Congress into cadre-based party’, says DK Shivakumar

Letter to Congress high command

Amidst the intense lobbying within the Congress’s Karnataka unit for the MLC elections, several like-minded leaders in the party penned a letter to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, appealing to prefer loyal party workers instead of outsiders.

In a letter addressed to the chief minister, party’s Karnataka unit chief secretary BR Naidu pointed out: “In every MLC election, voices are being raised to give opportunity for the loyal party workers. However, the tickets would be given according to the choice of senior leaders and party high command.”

“Those who have worked at grassroots levels for the party and the people for over 10 years must be considered for the MLC election,” urged Naidu.

“The party must give opportunity to new faces instead of those who were council members and also became Cabinet ministers. This will strengthen the party workers and increase their morale,” said Naidu.

According to sources, the party leaders opposed the ticket to former MLCs Dr Tejaswini Gowda and KP Nanjundi, who recently quit the BJP and pledged allegiance to the Congress.

“I have written a letter to the chief minister and deputy chief minister — also the chief of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) — seeking opportunity for the loyal and common party workers instead of outsiders,” Naidu told South First.

“The party leadership has responded positively to our request to field fresh faces, who have worked for the party for at least five to ten years, in at least 33 percent seats in the 13 June election,” Naid said.

“It is true that we are demanding tickets for the loyal party workers instead of outsiders. The party must give opportunity to the new faces in the biennial elections. We are confident that they will honour our demands,” Congress leader S Manohar told South First.

It is said that Minister for Minor Irrigation NS Boseraju, Chief Minister’s political secretary K Govindraj, chief minister’s son and former MLA Yathindra Siddaramaiah, former MLC Ivan D’souza, former minister BL Shankar, Dr Tejaswini Gowda and KP Nanjundi are in the race.

It may be noted that Siddaramaiah and DK Shivakumar are going to Delhi on Tuesday,  28 May, to finalise the names for the biennial elections.

Responding to this, DyCM Shivakumar told reporters: “There are over 300 aspirants in all the communities. We cannot accommodate all the communities. There are also sitting members as well. Everyone has worked for the party.”

“Let’s see. Tickets have been sought for coastal regions, as well as for Kalyana Karnataka, Kittur Karnataka, Bengaluru and old Mysuru regions. We have to distribute to all regions. It is a difficult position (we are in)… Delhi (high command) will do it,” he said.

Reacting to Home Minister G Parameshwara’s statement that Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar should consult senior party leaders like him on the selection of candidates for MLC polls, the KPCC chief said, “Surely, we will consult them.”

Also Read: Procedure to bring back Prajwal will start if he doesn’t turn up on 31 May: Karnataka HM

BJP leaders say ‘no’ to ‘rehabilitation’ efforts

According to sources, several BJP leaders demanded the high command to prioritise intellectuals and local and loyal party workers instead of outsiders.

The BJP shortlisted some candidates in the state core committee meeting held recently at the state party headquarters.

On anonymity, a former MLC told South First: “The Legislative Council has turned out to be a rehabilitation centre, especially to accommodate those who were not considered for the Assembly and Parliament elections.”

“The council is popularly known as an intellectual house. If the party prefers intellectuals, we can witness a healthy debate on government policies and laws and take the ruling party to task whenever required, considering their expertise in a particular domain. In reality, it has lost its sanctity in recent years due to extreme politics,” said the former BJP MLC.

He further pointed out: “We have conveyed a message to our party leadership to consider the loyal, local and intellectuals associated with the party instead of outsiders or leaders’ kith and kin.”

“The party must concentrate on strengthening its presence in both Houses of the legislature instead of appeasing a section of communities by offering Constitutional posts,” the leader added.

“The recent decisions from the state party leadership regarding the selection of candidates have not gone down well. We have demanded to field intellectuals who will bring a difference in the House,” added the former MLC.

Another MLC told South First: “The message has been conveyed to the high command that the party must prefer intellectuals for at least one of the three seats instead of rehabilitating the disgruntled leaders.”

“The party should strive for effective representation in the House to fight against the ruling party,” said the MLC

The lawmaker seconded the former MLC’s opinion that the Legislative Council became a political playground for the parties to accommodate those who missed out on tickets in Assembly and Parliament elections.

Also Read: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah takes a swipe at PM Modi over ‘God sent’ remark

BJP shortlisted candidates

With the elections getting near, the state core committee of the BJP shortlisted at least 10 names for the three seats.

The meeting was held under the leadership of BJP parliamentary board member and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa, state party president BY Vijayendra, Opposition Leader in the state Assembly R Ashoka and other leaders.

On condition of anonymity, a former BJP minister told South First: “The state core committee has decided to prioritise smaller communities like Koli and Maratha. The committee has cleared sitting MLC N Ravikumar’s name for one seat.”

“For the remaining two seats, the party has considered former minister Pramod Madhwaraj, Nirmal Kumar Surana, Marutirao Muley, Jagadish Hiremani, former MLA CT Ravi, former MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, Dhanyashree — a party worker from Belagavi — and others.”

“The high command will go through it and take a final call on nominees for the two seats. The party is also considering those who missed out on tickets in Assembly and Parliament elections,” added the former minister.

On the BJP leaders demanding tickets for intellectuals or local party workers, he replied: “The high command is aware of their demands. The party will field appropriate candidates. We have only recommended those who are loyal to the party workers.”

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)