Bengaluru: The All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Sunday announced a list of 218 candidates who will face the Karnataka assembly polls, scheduled for 12 May.
However, the list specifies that Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah will be contesting from only one seat, Chamundeshwari, and not from two as his office had recently announced.
Of the 122 elected in 2013, 103 existing Congress legislators have got tickets to contest the assembly elections, which includes many ministers who were dropped from the state cabinet in mid-2016 for non-performance.
Former excise minister H.Y.Meti, who was caught on camera seeking sexual favours for transfers in a government department, has also been given a ticket.
The Congress list shows how the party has accommodated new entrants from the Janata Dal (Secular), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and independents, scions of existing legislators, former bureaucrats, 15 women, and even the serving and former mayor of Bengaluru in the fray for the 2018 polls.
The choice of candidates by Congress shows how the party is trying everything possible to ensure it secures a majority in the upcoming polls to retain power in the state, one of the last few still under its rule. Though caste equations have been considered in its choice of candidates, the party’s decision to give tickets to all seven JDS rebels at the cost of upsetting its own workers and aspirants shows how it has placed winnability as the main criteria.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying hard to wrest power from the Congress to continue its winning streak in assembly elections.
The Congress list, announced after a delay of at least five hours, doesn’t feature candidates for six constituencies. including for Shanthi Nagar in Bengaluru.
The other five candidates who are yet to be named are for Kittur, Nagthan, Sindgi, Raichur and Melukote constituencies.
Keeping his promise to support Darshan Puttannaiah, Siddaramaiah got his way in convincing the Congress from fielding a candidate in Melkote as an ode to K.S.Puttannaiah, the farmer leader and sitting legislator, who died in February this year. K.S.Puttannaiah had joined Yogendra Yadav’s Swaraj India and his son will also contest from the same party.
Other than the support to Darshan, the Congress has named at least six family members of existing or late political leaders that include Yathindra Siddaramaiah, the 38-year-old son of the Karnataka CM. K.Fathima, wife of late Congress leader Qamar Ul Islam, will be fielded from her Islam’s constituency (Kalaburagi rural). Other political scions who will make their entry into electoral politics include Santosh Jayachandra (son of law minister T.B.Jayachandra), Soumya Reddy (daughter of home minister Ramalinga Reddy), Roopa Sasidhar (daughter of former union minister K.H.Muniyappa), Kirthana Rudregowda (wife of late Y.N.Rudregowda) and Vinay Kumar (son of G. Ramakrishna).
The party has also given tickets to Shamanur Shivashankarappa, the president of the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, who had opposed the Siddaramaiah government’s decision to grant minority religion status to Lingayats. Anand Singh from Vijayanagara, a former BJP legislator who was named in the illegal iron ore mining scandal, has also been given a ticket.
The party has also fielded Bengaluru mayor Sampath Raj from C.V.Raman Nagar, a constituency reserved for scheduled caste, and G. Padmavati, the former mayor from Rajajinagar. Former Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner Siddaiah will also make his entry from Sakleshpur, also reserved for an SC candidate.