Eleven of the 121 candidates in the elections for 25 Karnataka Council seats are the relatives of political leaders. This has prompted the Congress and BJP to level allegations of nepotism against each other.
The December 10 election will be held from 20 local body regions whose existing members are set to retire in January.
Congress has seven candidates who are the relatives of key leaders. The BJP has given tickets to three such persons and the JD(S) one.
The Congress party list of candidates features R Rajendra, who is the son of former party MLA K N Rajanna from the Tumkur region, Channaraja Basavaraja Hottiholi, the brother of MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar from Belagavi, S Ravi, a relative of state Congress President D K Shivakumar from rural Bengaluru, Sunil Gowda Patil, brother of senior MLA M B Patil from Vijayapura, Sharana Gowda Patil, a relative of the MLA Amare Gowda Patil from Raichur, Mantar Gowda, son of former Congress leader A Manju from Kodagu, and Bhim Rao Patil, brother of MLA Rajasekhar Patil from Bidar.
BJP has retained MLC Pradeep Shettar, the brother of former chief minister Jagadish Shettar as its candidate for Dharwad. It has chosen D S Arun, son of former legislative council chairman D H Shankaramurthy for Shivamogga, and Suja Kushalappa, the elder brother of Madikeri MLA Appacchu Ranjan for Kodagu.
The JD(S) has given a ticket to Suraj Revanna, a grandson of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and the son of senior leader H D Revanna, to contest from the Hassan region. Suraj Revanna is the eighth member from the Deve Gowda family to enter politics. The JD(S) has given tickets to only seven candidates for the MLC polls.
The choice of candidates sparked debate.
“In JD(S), eight people from one family are sharing power, but the Congress party has gone further on this issue. From the AICC national president post to selection of candidates for the legislative council polls, Congress has honoured nepotism,” the BJP said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Karnataka Congress President D K Shivakumar said: “Let BJP have a look at their list first and say as to whom they have given a ticket to in Kodagu, Dharwad and other places. Let them face the mirror first and we will talk later.”
The choice of candidates has also resulted in the creation of sticky situations for the politcal parties in some places. The Congress choice of candidates for the Kodagu and Belagavi regions has created a controversy.
In Kodagu the Congress has fielded Mantar Gowda the son of former Hassan MLA A Manju – who is currently with the BJP. Taking note of the Congress giving a ticket to Manju’s son the BJP has relieved Manju from all party responsibilities.
Manju was a minister in the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government before he jumped to the BJP and contested, unsuccessfully, as the BJP’s Hassan candidate for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
With the Congress giving a ticket to Channaraj Hottiholi for the Belagavi region a Congress leader from the region Lakhan Jarkiholi has chosen to contest as an Independent candidate in the region. Hottiholi is the brother of the Congress MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar who is a close associate of the state Congress chief D K Shivakumar.
Lakhan Jarkiholi is the brother of BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi who is embroiled in a bitter personal feud with D K Shivakumar and Hebbalkar.
Tickets have been distributed in the Congress between candidates from the Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah factions.
The BJP has retained senior leaders like backward classes welfare minister Kota Srinivas Poojary from Dakshina Kannada, chief whip Mahantesh Kavatagimath from Belagavi and deputy chairman of the Council M K Pranesh from Chikkamagaluru.
The JDS which has fielded only seven candidates must support BJP candidates in places where the JDS has not fielded candidates, the BJP leader and former CM B S Yediyurappa has stated.
Currently, the ruling BJP, holds 32 seats in the 75-member house, while the Congress has 29 seats and JD(S) has 12 seats. The BJP is hopeful of winning atleast 15 seats, Yediyurappa said. The BJP is currently dependent on the JDS to push legislation through the council and is keen to wrest total control of the upper house to set its agenda to pass new laws that are in the pipeline.
A total of 121 candidates have filed 215 nominations, according to the election commission. The last date for withdrawal of candidature is November 26 and counting of votes will take place on December 14.