Lok Sabha elections 2024: Why did BJP not announce any names for Karnataka in first list?

The announcements are expected in the coming weeks, and are likely to coincide with the resolution of seat-sharing dialogues with the JD(S).

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Mar 04, 2024 | 9:00 AMUpdatedMar 04, 2024 | 10:48 AM

BJP high command with Karnataka unit leaders.

The BJP is abuzz with preparations for the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, the party’s plans are facing a delay in Karnataka as seat-sharing negotiations with alliance partner Janata Dal (Secular) persist.

While the BJP recently swiftly announced candidates for 195 Lok Sabha constituencies across various states and Union Territories (UTs), Karnataka was one of the exceptions, with no names disclosed from the state yet.

Senior BJP leaders emphasised that the delay primarily stemmed from the intricacies of forming alliances with the JD(S) and finalising candidates in states where the party lacked direct governance.

According to insiders, discussions are underway within the BJP’s Karnataka unit to adapt to changes in seat-sharing plans, causing the postponement of candidate announcements.

“The state leadership is actively gathering opinions on potential nominees for all 28 Lok Sabha constituencies [in the state], a process to be deliberated upon in core committee meetings before the submission [of the candidate list] to the party high command,” claimed BJP leaders.

Candidate announcements are expected in the coming weeks, and are likely to coincide with the resolution of seat-sharing dialogues with the JD(S).

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Fresh considerations

Additionally, the BJP is preparing to introduce fresh faces in Karnataka for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Several incumbent MPs — including prominent figures like Shivakumar Udasi, GS Basavaraju, and Abbaiah Narayanswamy — have announced their retirement from electoral politics, paving the way for new candidates.

In a notable development, the BJP’s Karnataka unit witnesses a compromise between senior Lingayat leaders BS Yediyurappa and V Somanna, ending their strained relationship ahead of the elections.

The meeting between the two leaders signifies a unified front within the party, something deemed crucial for electoral success.

While speculations have arisen regarding Somanna’s aspirations for a Lok Sabha ticket from Tumakuru, both leaders affirm their commitment to maintaining harmony within the party.

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Seat-sharing, scrutiny underway: BJP

While the BJP high command has announced candidates for 195 constituencies in 15 different states and four UTs, the party’s Karnataka unit leaders have claimed that the scrutiny to finalise the candidates and seat-sharing talks with the JD(S) were still underway, resulting in a delay of announcing the candidates in the first list.

The BJP and the JD(S) are fighting the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in alliance in Karnataka. The alliance partners are yet to reach a consensus over seat-sharing, which is expected to finalise in a week or two.

On condition of anonymity, a senior BJP leader told South First: “In the first list, the party has announced candidates for those states where it is already at the helm.”

He noted: “The party did not find it very difficult to finalise the candidates in states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat, considering it is in power there. In those states where the party is not in power, it will take some more time to scrutinise candidates.”

The leader added: “We are expecting that it might take a little more time for the high command to announce candidates for Karnataka. We are expecting the candidates’ names either in the second or the third list, which are expected to be released by the end of this month.”

BJP MLC N Ravikumar told South First: “There are some changes in the plans. Hence, the announcement of candidates for Karnataka has been delayed.”

He confirmed that the state leadership was collecting opinions regarding the nominees of all 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka.

“These opinions will be discussed in the core committee meeting. The final report will be submitted to the high command,” he added.

Ravikumar also said the seat shares with the JD(S) in Karnataka were likely to be finalised by the end of this week.

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8 fresh candidates expected

With several incumbent Lok Sabha members having announced retirement from electoral politics, the BJP high command is likely to field around eight fresh faces from Karnataka in the 2024 polls, claimed sources in the party.

This, despite the high command apparently being in favour of giving tickets to incumbent MPs in most constituencies.

Haveri-Gadag MP Shivakumar Udasi, Tumakuru MP GS Basavaraju, and Chitradurga MP and Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Abbaiah Narayanswamy have announced retirement from electoral politics.

Meanwhile, Bagalkot MP PC Gaddigoudar, Belagavi MP Mangala Angadi, Chikkaballapur MP B N Bachegowda and Vijayapura MP Ramesh Jigajinagi are also not keen to contest the upcoming elections, claimed sources in the party.

On condition of anonymity, a senior BJP leader told South First: “The process to finalise the candidates has already begun. The party is expected to field fresh candidates in around seven to eight constituencies in Karnataka.”

He added: “The candidates will be finalised based on the local leadership opinion, the party’s internal survey, and other important factors.”

Also Read: Karnataka ex-CM Jagadish Shettar returns to BJP

BSY, Somanna end hostilities

Meanwhile, in a significant development in the BJP’s Karnataka unit, former chief minister BS Yediyurappa and former state minister V Somanna — senior Lingayat leaders — have ended their bitter relationship ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

V Somanna met BJP Parliamentary Board member Yediyurappa at his residence on Saturday night. He was also accompanied by former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, Tumakuru MP GS Basavaraj, and V Somanna’s son Dr Arun Somanna.

According to sources: “It was another senior Lingayat leader — Jagadish Shettar — who mediated between Yediyurappa and Somanna to end their strained relationship.”

It may be noted that ever since Somanna lost in two constituencies — Mysuru’s Varuna and Chamarajanagar — in the May 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections, he had been sulking at Yediyurappa and his son Vijayendra, who is heading the state unit of the BJP.

He had indirectly blamed the party leaders — including Vijayendra — for his defeat in the Assembly polls.

He was enraged after Vijayendra was made the state president. Thereafter, he met the BJP high command and demanded a Rajya Sabha seat.

However, he was disappointed in the Rajya Sabha polls as the party preferred former MLC Narayan K Bhandage over Somanna.

With the Lok Sabha polls nearing, Somanna is now lobbying hard to get a party ticket either for him or his son for the Tumakuru seat, claimed sources.

On condition of anonymity, a senior BJP leader, who was part of the meeting between Yediyurappa and Somanna, told South First: “Yediyurappa and Somanna had not been on good terms for the last few years. With the Lok Sabha polls nearing, this bitter relationship would not have sent a good message to the party workers and people of Karnataka.”

He added: “Hence, I was compelled to arrange a meeting between Yediyurappa and Somanna to end this amicably. Both leaders agreed to be on good terms and held discussion for over an hour about the upcoming elections and state politics.”

On whether Somanna sought the support of Yediyurappa for the Tumakuru Lok Sabha ticket, he pointed out: “With Somanna demanding a ticket, Yediyurappa not agreeing would not have turned out well.”

The BJP leader explained: “Hence, we made this meeting possible and successful as well. We wanted the senior leaders to be in a cordial relationship in the interest of the party. With regard to the ticket for Somanna, the incumbent MP (GS Basavaraj) has announced retirement from electoral politics. The high command will take the final decision.”     

However, Somanna told reporters that he did not discuss the Lok Sabha elections with Yediyurappa but held talks on various other issues.