A member of the Reddy brother triumvirate from the Bellary region, two former MLAs accused in cases of corruption, and a former MLA who was acquitted last year in a rape case are among 82 names in the BJP’s second list of candidates who will contest the Karnataka Assembly polls on May 12. The BJP had on April 8 released its first list of 72 candidates for the 224 Assembly seats.
The BJP has chosen G Somashekhar Reddy — one of the Reddy brothers of Bellary along with G Janardhan Reddy and G Karunakar Reddy — who ran a private fiefdom revolving around the iron ore mining industry in Bellary between 2008-13, to contest from Bellary City.
Somashekhar is a former MLA from the region who lost the 2013 polls to the Congress’s Anil Lad, a mining magnate. The 2018 battle for Bellary City will be a repeat of 2013, with the Congress having nominated Anil for the seat on Sunday.
Two other controversial candidates chosen by the BJP are S N Krishnaiah Setty for Malur seat and Katta Subramanya Naidu for Shivajinagar.
Setty, a former minister in the B S Yeddyurappa government, was accused along with Yeddyurappa in 2011 in a corruption case for illegal denotification of land acquired by the state for the benefit of private parties. He was later acquitted with Yeddyurappa. Former industries minister Naidu was accused by the Karnataka Lokayukta of corruption through insider trading for acquiring farm land around Bengaluru airport at low cost and later selling it to the government at higher cost during land acquisition for industrial areas around the airport. He was also acquitted.
A former minister, Hartal Halappa, who was acquitted in 2017 of charges of rape is being fielded from Sagar constituency by the BJP. Halappa had been trying for a Congress ticket till recently but moved back to the BJP after he was refused Sagar seat, held by veteran Kagodu Thimappa.
Two former Congress MLAs — Kumar Bangarappa, a former minister and son of former CM S Bangarappa, and N L Narendra Babu — will be fielded by the BJP from their traditional seats in Sorab in Shimoga region and Mahalakshmi Layout in Bengaluru.
In the list of 154 candidates announced so far the BJP has named only two women candidates. The Congress in its list of 218 candidates released on Sunday has named 15 women candidates. The BJP has not named any candidate from minority communities in its list of 154 candidates named till date.
In its first list of candidates released last week, the BJP named two MPs — state president and chief minister candidate B S Yeddyurappa of Shimoga and Bellary’s B Sreeramulu, a close associate of the Reddy brothers of Bellary — to contest the polls on May 12. The BJP also granted a ticket for Shimoga constituency to Yeddyurappa’s arch rival K S Eshwarappa.
The first list of the BJP featured most of the party’s 44 sitting MLAs and new entrants to the party like Congress veteran Mallikayya Guttedar and former BJP MP Basavaraj Patil Yatnal, who returned to the party from the JDS.