Will Siddaramaiah contest the Karnataka Assembly elections from two seats? The question remained unanswered even after Congress released its second list of candidates for the upcoming 10 May polls.
What the list, released on Thursday, 6 April, made clear was that he would not contest his incumbent seat of Badami.
After two days of deliberations by the party’s Central Election Committee at the AICC headquarters, the Congress released its list of 42 candidates, which showed one seat had been given to Darshan Puttannaiah of the Sarvodaya Karnataka Party. Darshan is the son of the popular deceased farmer leader Puttannaiah.
With this list, the Congress has announced names of candidates for 166 seats so far.
Out of the 166, 11 candidates are from the Muslim community. The list so far has only six women candidates, of whom only one is a non-incumbent.
ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ವಿಧಾನಸಭಾ ಚುನಾವಣೆಯ ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಪಕ್ಷದ 42 ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರದ ಅಭ್ಯರ್ಥಿಗಳ 2ನೇ ಪಟ್ಟಿಯನ್ನು ಅಧಿಕೃತವಾಗಿ ಬಿಡುಗಡೆಗೊಳಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ.
ರಾಜ್ಯದ ಭವ್ಯ ಭವಿಷ್ಯಕ್ಕಾಗಿ, ಅಭಿವೃದ್ಧಿಗಾಗಿ, ಭ್ರಷ್ಟಾಚಾರ ಮುಕ್ತ ಆಡಳಿತಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಕಾಂಗ್ರೆಸ್ ಅಭ್ಯರ್ಥಿಗಳನ್ನು ಬೆಂಬಲಿಸಿ, ಆಯ್ಕೆ ಮಾಡಬೇಕೆಂದು ವಿನಂತಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ. pic.twitter.com/FrV8v9wXkg
— Karnataka Congress (@INCKarnataka) April 6, 2023
According to Congress sources, 11 among the second list of 42 candidates are Lingayats (including one Reddy Lingayat), another 11 Vokkaligas (including Darshan Puttannaiah), three Kurubas, three Muslims, four from SCs, and two are from STs. The second list doesn’t have a single woman candidate.
The party has to now finalise the list for the remaining 58 seats.
Turncoats and Kolar mystery
While the party has already announced Siddaramaiah as its candidate for the Varuna constituency, the former chief minister is said to be keen on contesting from the Kolar seat as well.
The party’s internal surveys have suggested that Kolar is a risky seat for Siddaramaiah, one that would require all of his attention and time, and leave no space for him to campaign for the party in the rest of the state.
Siddaramaiah’s assessment of the seat, however, indicates that his bid from Kolar would help consolidate minority, backward classes, and Dalit votes even in the neighbouring seats in favour of Congress.
With the party’s state president DK Shivakumar and his faction adamant that no candidate would contest from more than one seat, Siddaramaiah contesting from Kolar has been a bone of contention.
A total of 42 candidates, including three defectors, who recently quit as legislators and joined the Congress, and one outside candidate, Darshan, made it to the second list.
Baburao Chinchansur and NY Gopalakrishna recently quit as BJP MLC and MLA, respectively.
They joined the Congress and have been fielded as candidates in Gurmitkal and Molakalmuru, respectively.
SR Srinivas (Vasu), who had quit as a JD(S) MLA, has been fielded as a candidate from Gubbi.
Gopalakrishna was the BJP’s MLA from Kudligi in the Vijayanagara district in the current Assembly. There were protests outside the KPCC office on the day he joined the party, with cadres insisting that he shouldn’t be given a ticket.
“He is very popular in the region and has a dedicated voter base,” said a Congress leader justifying the picking Gopalakrishna for Molakalmuru despite the party having an in-house aspirant.
Former minister Vinay Kulkarni, who was expected in some quarters to take on Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai from Shiggaon in the Haveri district, has been given a ticket from Dharwad.
Kulkarni has been barred from entering the Dharwad district by a court in connection with the murder of local Zila Panchayat member Yogeesh Goudar.
The party is now likely to pick a Muslim candidate in Basavaraj Bommai’s constituency Shiggaon to consolidate minority voters along with a section of Lingayats and backward classes.
Young names, calculated candidates
The second list of candidates by Congress has some young names and calculated picks.
Former chief minister Dharam Singh’s son Vijay Dharam Singh has got a ticket from Basavakalyan. His brother Ajay Dharam Singh, a sitting MLA and the Opposition’s chief whip in the current Assembly, had got a ticket from Jewargi in the first list.
Bheemasen B Chimmannakatti has been given the ticket from Badami, which is currently represented by Siddaramaiah. He is the son of Balappa Bhimappa Chimmankatti, who had vacated the seat for the former chief minister in the 2018 Assembly polls.
Siddhegowda will contest from Chamundeshwari, the seat from where Siddaramaiah lost in the 2018 elections, removing all speculations of Siddaramaiah’s son Yathindra contesting from there. Yathindra, the incumbent MLA from Varuna, is expected to spearhead his father’s campaign.
Former ministers Santosh Lad, Anjaneya H, Kimmane Rathnakar, and RB Thimmapur are contesting from Kalghatgi, Holalkere, Tirthahalli, and Mudhol, respectively.
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More electoral equations
It was widely expected that the Kadur seat would go to senior politician YSV Datta, who had switched to the Congress from the JD(S) recently, but the ticket has been given to Anand KS — a young Kuruba leader who the party believes would be able to win by a big margin.
Datta was considered to be one of the close confidants of former prime minister and JD(S) patriarch HD Deve Gowda.
A key pick of the Congress in its second list is Mahantesh Kadadi for the Gokak constituency, which is currently represented by Ramesh Jarkiholi of the BJP.
Jarkiholi led the team of defectors from the Congress-JD(S) coalition government to join the BJP, and is engaged in a publicly-acknowledged rivalry with DK Shivakumar. The Congress is confident that Kadadi will breach Jarkiholi’s bastion.
For seats in Bengaluru like Yelahanka and Yeshwanthapura, where the Congress lost its MLAs to defection, the party has fielded Keshava Rajanna B and S Balraj Gowda, putting to rest speculations of incumbent ministers Byrathi Basavaraj and ST Somashekhar returning to the Congress.