Cong candidates’ list shows Siddaramaiah’s stamp of authority

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Bengaluru, April 16 (PTI): Chief Minister Siddaramaiah seems to have had his way in selection of Congress candidates for the May 12 assembly polls in Karnataka, with most party hoppers getting tickets, upsetting several seniors.

With most of those who switched sides getting tickets,  it is seen as consolidation of Siddaramaiah’s position within the party, as party veterans like Mallikarjuna Kharge,  Veerappa Moily and KPCC chief G Parameshwara were seen opposed to it, preferring long time party workers.

Issuing tickets to party hoppers, including seven rebel JDS MLAs and controversial businessman of Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project Ashok Kheny, was reported to be a thorny issue while selecting candidates, with Siddaramaiah said to be standing strongly in their favour.

The chief minister is also said to have had his way in getting tickets to Anand Singh and B Nagendra in Ballari district. The two, who are allegedly involved in the illegal mining case, had joined the Congress, ahead of elections.

While Singh was earlier in the BJP, Nagendra was an independent MLA. BR Patil, Satish Sail, Mankala Subba Vaidy, G Manjunath, S N Subba Reddy and Anil Kumar are among the other recent entrants to Congress who have got the tickets.

As several of the party hoppers, who have got tickets; have had connection with JDS, Siddaramaiah’s former party, it reportedly irked long time party loyalists and veterans.

However, by not acceding to Siddaramaiah’s reported wish to contest from two seats, Chamundeshwari in Mysuru and Badami in Bagalkote district of north Karnataka, the party high command is seen to have done some kind of balancing act.

Siddaramaiah’s reported wish to contest from two seats is said to have met with stiff opposition from both Kharge and Moily.

The two leaders is said to have stated that it would send wrong message to voters in Mysuru region and would further consolidate Vokkaliga votes in favour of the JDS. Badami with strong Kuruba presence, the community to which Siddaramaiah belongs, was seen as second safe option for the Chief Minister as reports have suggested that the battle in Chamundeshwari will not be an easy one for him.

The Chief Minister will now be contesting from Chamundeshwari alone, from where he has won five times and tasted defeat twice.

He was representing Varuna Mysuru constituency which has now been allotted to his son Yatindra.

Amid reports of haggling among top leaders, the Congress last night announced the list of 218 candidates in one go for the 224-member Karnataka legislative assembly that will go to polls on May 12.

The party has kept candidates for six seats on hold. They are Sindagi, Nagathan, Kittur, Raichur, Shantinagar and Melukote constituencies. According to party sources, the Congress is expected to support farmer leader Puttannaiah’s son Darshan Puttannaiah (Swaraj India) from Melukote.

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