With the Bengaluru mayoral polls only a month away, the Congress and the JD(S), who formed a coalition in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council, each want their candidate to become the city’s next mayor.
Sources in the JD(S), which joined hands with the Congress to form a coalition government in Karnataka in May this year, say that the party’s leaders do not want to be sidelined.
“For three years, the Congress candidate has become the Mayor. JD(S) candidates have been given the post of Deputy Mayor. With our party leader as the CM, it is only fair that our candidate gets the post,” a JD(S) source said.
During the 2015 council polls, the BJP had emerged as the single largest party winning 100 seats. The Congress had won 76 seats and the JD(S) had bagged 14. Seven seats went to independent candidates and the SDPI won 1 seat. Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy was instrumental in bringing together the independents and the JD(S) to form a coalition in the BBMP council. With the help of votes from Congress and JD(S) legislators (registered as voters in Bengaluru), the result swung in favour of the coalition.
Currently, R Sampath Raj is serving as the Mayor of Bengaluru and this time around, the state government has reserved the General Category (Woman) for the Mayor’s seat and General Category for the Deputy Mayor’s post.
From the Congress, two-time corporator from Jayanagar ward Gangambike, a Lingayat candidate, is the frontrunner for the post. Also in the fray is Sowmya Shivakumar from Shanthinagar ward and Lavanya Ganesh Reddy from Lingarajapuram ward.
From the JD(S), corporator SP Hemalatha from the Vrushabhavathi ward and Netra Narayan from Kaval Byrasandra ward are in contention for the post.
“Many JD(S) leaders want our party’s candidate to become the Mayor. But the ultimate decision will be taken by CM Kumaraswamy and Deve Gowda on the issue of pushing for the Mayor’s post,” a JD(S) leader said.
However, the Congress, which had to give up aspirations of its leader becoming the chief minister of Karnataka, is adamant on retaining the mayoral post.
“We have more seats than the JD(S). Besides, the party has offered JD(S) three chairman posts (for agencies under BBMP) and given them the Deputy Mayor post. This is a fair deal and in no way will the party allow JD(S) to usurp the mayor’s post,” a senior Congress leader told TNM.
Congress insiders say that corporator Gangambike is the favourite among many party leaders, especially since BTM Layout MLA and former Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy has decided to back her as the mayoral candidate of the party.
“NA Haris, however, is backing Sowmya. Party leaders know that they cannot sideline Ramalinga Reddy any longer, especially since he was kept out of the cabinet. Reddy has been instrumental in the growth of the Congress party in Bengaluru and for the past 20 years, he has been at the centre of politics in the city. Almost all the corporators have grown in their areas because of him. Generally, his choice is backed by the party when it comes to mayoral elections,” the Congress leader added.