After six days of consultations, the All India Congress Committee on Sunday arrived at a final list of 218 candidates who will contest the Karnataka assembly elections on May 12. The candidates’ list, finalised after a great deal of introspection to keep the possibility of dissidence down to a minimal level, contains the names of 112 sitting MLAs. Only 10 sitting MLAs have not been given tickets this time. The ruling party in the state has also fielded 15 women, 14 Muslims, three Christians and two Jains for the polls. There are as many as 36 reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and 16 for Scheduled Tribes.
Contrary to speculation, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will not contest from two seats. He will only contest from his traditional citadel of Chamundeshwari in Mysore region where the opposition BJP and JD(S) are expected to put up a tough battle. A second seat — Badami in north Karnataka — where Siddaramaiah was expected to contest has been given to Devaraj Patil. The party’s sitting MLA from Badami, B B Chimankatti, figures in the list of those dropped this time.
Unlike last year’s Punjab polls, when the Congress followed the “one-family, one-ticket” rule, at least four exceptions have been made this time. Siddaramaiah’s son Yathindra Siddaramaiah has been given ticket from Varuna in Mysore while Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy’s daughter Soumya Reddy will contest from Jayanagar in Bengaluru. Ramalinga Reddy will contest from BTM Layout seat. Tickets have also been given to two more father-son pairs — Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra (Sira in Tumkur) and his son Santosh Jayachandra (Chikanayakanahalli); and Housing Minister M Krishnappa (Govindrajnagar) and his son Priya Krishna (Vijayanagar).
In addition, former minister and MP K H Muniyappa’s daughter Roopa Shashidhar will contest from Kolar and Congress leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge’s son Priyank — the minister for Information Technology in the state government — will contest the polls from Chittapur constituency in the Gulbarga region. Among the 15 women — an unprecedented number since only 10 were given tickets in the 2013 state polls — picked by the Congress to contest the polls are the widows of MLAs Qamarul Islam and Mahadev Prasad, who died in the last one year, and the daughter of Rudresh Gowda, an MLA who died a couple of months ago.
The Congress has also accommodated seven rebel JD(S) MLAs, who recently joined the party, as well as businessman Ashok Kheny, who left his own party KMP to join the Congress. In the Bellary region, the Congress has accommodated two former BJP MLAs — mining baron Anand Singh and businessman B Nagendra — both of who are facing charges of involvement in an illegal iron ore mining racket. The party has also fielded B R Patil, an MLA who was elected in 2013 on a ticket from the Karnataka Janata Party floated by the BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa.
Six seats where the Congress has not announced candidates are Sindgi, Nagthan, Melukote, Kittur, Raichur and Shantinagar. In Melukote, the Congress is likely to support the candidate from Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, a farmers’ party whose leader K S Puttannaiah died recently of heart attack. Putannaiah’s son is expected to contest the poll from there. The party has fielded a Muslim candidate against JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy in the Ramanagara constituency. The Congress, like in the past, has given the largest chunk of tickets to candidates from the Lingayat community who can decide the fate of candidates in as many as 100 seats in the state.