Parties struggle to finalise candidates in Karnataka
With Karnataka set for one-day poll April 17 to elect 28 members to Lok Sabha, the Congress, the BJP and the JD-S are trying to speed up candidate selection but are hampered by infighting and efforts to zero in on the winnability factor of the contenders for a ticket.
All the three parties have missed the grandiosely announced deadlines of releasing the candidates list well before the Election Commission comes out with the poll dates as they seem to be waiting for the others to name the nominees and then finalise who from their party can take on them.
An interesting feature of this election in Karnataka is provided by the state's ruling Congress with the IT major Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani already campaigning for the Bangalore South Lok Sabha seat though he is yet to join the party and be officially named its candidate.
Nilekani has started the campaign as state Congress leaders have indicated that he has been chosen for the constituency, currently held by Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar, and only the official announcement is due.
Karnataka Congress leaders have also indicated that all the nine Lok Sabha members from the state will be renominated for the April 17 poll, leaving the party to finalise candidates for the remaining 18 seats.
For two of the seats, Dakshina Kannada, about 350km west of Bangalore, and Bangalore North, the Congress is holding primaries - idea of party vice president Rahul Gandhi - on March 9 and March 15 respectively to pick the candidate.
The primary in Dakshina Kannada has run into controvery with party's returning officer rejecting the application of Harsha Moily, son of Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily, on technical grounds. Moily junior was to take on Congress veteran and former central minister B. Janardhana Poojary for the ticket.
Even as the Congress struggles to finalise the nominees for the remaining 16 seats, the party is caught in an embarrassing situation with state Congress chief G. Parameshwara criticising the Siddaramaiah government of not providing adequate funds for Dalits in this year's budget. Parameshwara, a Dalit, aired his view at a meeting of Dalits in Bangalore Sunday.
The chief minister hit back at Parameshwara Tuesday saying that allocation for various communities have been made based on their population.
On the BJP front, there was some relief for the party as its strongman in Bangalore and former home minister R. Ashoka Tuesday dropped his opposition to nominating former chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to contest from Bangalore North. The seat has large number of Vokkaliga community voters and both Ashoka and Gowda belong to the community.
To iron out differences over candidates for most of the other seats in the state, party's senior leader Arun Jaitley arrived in Bangalore Wednesday.
The Janata Dal-Secular headed by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, is also hunting for winning candidates though interest is on whether Gowda's daughter-in-law Anita Kumaraswamy and grandson Nikhil Gowda will be fielded.
Anita is married to Kumaraswamy, a former chief minister. Nikhil is their son and if chosen will be contesting the polls for the first time.
Also keenly watched in the state is the JD-S plan to field a family member of former chief minister S. Bangarappa from Shimoga, about 250 km north of Bangalore, from where BJP is fielding scam-tainted former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who has returned to the party after nine monhts. Shimoga is held by Yeddyurappa's son B.Y.Raghavendra.
The JDS has left it to party legislator and Bangarappa's younger son Madhu Bangarappa to decide whether to field his mother Shakuntala or sister Geeta.
Geeta is married to popular Kannada actor Shivaraj Kumar, son of thespian, the late Rajkumar.
All parties hope to finalise the candidates by next week as the election process has been set in motion by the Commission Wednesday.
(Posted on 05-03-2014)