The BJP and Congress are yet to finalise their candidates for the Assembly constituencies of Hangal and Sindgi in Karnataka which will go to the polls on October 30. The seats have remained vacant for months on account of the deaths of the respective MLAs.
The BJP core committee met Sunday and shortlisted candidates for the bypolls in the presence of Arun Singh, the party’s Karnataka in-charge. According to a senior BJP functionary who attended the meeting, former MLA Ramesh Bhusanur has emerged as a frontrunner for Sindgi while Revathi Udasi, daughter-in-law of CM Udasi whose death has necessitated the bypoll in Hangal, is likely to contest there.
Party general secretary CT Ravi said the shortlisted names have been okayed by state BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel and have been forwarded to the high command, before being finalised. Hangal is located in Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s home district of Haveri and Sindgi is in Bijapur.
Sources said other names discussed for Sindgi included that of senior BJP workers Ashok Allapur and Shambuling Kakkalameli. Senior ministers Govind Karjol, CC Patil and V Somanna have been given charge of the bypoll in Sindagi.
The names of former Haveri MLA Shivaraj Sajjanar, zilla panchayat member BS Soppin and BJP Haveri district president Siddaraj Kalakoti have been proposed for Hangal, besides that of Haveri MP Shivakumar Udasi who is the son of CM Udasi.
While the MP had himself expressed an interest to contest the bypoll, sources said senior leaders in the core committee wanted Revathi to get the ticket since Bommai and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa, who were both close to the late Udasi, favoured her candidature. Senior ministers Murugesh Nirani, JC Madhuswamy and BC Patil have been given charge of the bypoll in Hangal.
At the same time, after Yediyurappa’s son and Karnataka BJP Vice President B Y Vijayendra appealed to his followers to refrain from expressing anger against his non-inclusion in the list of in-charges for the bypolls, the saffron party Monday picked him in the team of in-charges for the Hangal assembly constituency.
“Some of our Karyakarthas have expressed their anger and anguish about my non-inclusion in the list of in-charge for Sindgi & Hangal by-elections. My appeal to them: please refrain from making comments that embarrass our party, leaders, or me,” Vijayendra had tweeted.
Vijayendra’s name was not there in the group of in-charges announced by the party on October 1. On Monday, BJP announced the revised list of in-charges. He is among the 13 in-charges for Hangal seat that include ministers Murugesh Nirani, J C Madhuswamy, BC Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, and MP Shivakumar Udasi. The in-charges for Sindgi seat include ministers Govind Karjol, V Somanna, C C Patil and Shashikala Jolle.
The Sindgi bypoll has been necessitated by the death of veteran JDS leader M C Managuli in January this year at the age of 85. His son Ashok Managuli has switched over to the Congress and is hoping to get a ticket.
Meanwhile, the state Congress which has upped the ante against the BJP government at the Centre and in the state in recent weeks is also likely to put up a tough fight in the bypolls. The party is expected to finalise its candidates by Wednesday. According to party sources, it has sent the names of Srinivas Mane and Manohar Tahsildar for Hangal, and Ashok Managuli for Sindgi to the party high command.
The results of the bypolls will be declared on November 2. The tenure of the new MLAs, however, will only be a little more than a year since the next Assembly elections are scheduled for 2023.
The BJP has been dependent on veteran leader Yediyurappa for winning polls until now and this will be Bommai’s first major electoral test since becoming the chief minister in July. Bommai has expressed confidence that the party will emerge victorious. “Hangal has been our constituency whereas Sindgi is a JD(S) fort, but take it from me that we are 100 per cent sure of winning both the seats,” he said.
Meanwhile, JD(S) has announced Naziya Shakeel Ahmed Angadi and Niyaz Shaikh as its candidates from Sindgi and Hangal, respectively. JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy has hit out at Congress leaders who accused the regional party of trying to divide minority votes by fielding minority candidates to help the BJP.
Kumaraswamy too exuded confidence that both JD(S) candidates will win the bypolls. “I know the ground reality there and had asked Nazia Angadi to begin working for the election a few months ago. Hangal candidate Niyaz Sheikh is an MTech graduate who is well educated and deserves to be elected,” he said.