As the last date for filing nominations for the bye-polls is near, former Rajarajeshwari Nagar MLA Munirathna Naidu, who is now with the BJP, is allegedly unhappy about his predicament. Munirathna, who was promised a chance to contest bye-polls and a ministerial berth, is unhappy as the BJP is backtracking on giving him a ticket. Munirathna was one among the 17 legislators, who defected to the BJP after resigning from the Congress-JD(S) coalition in 2018.
The BJP’s state unit sent a list of two names as options for the RR Nagar candidate. Munirathna, who was confident about being chosen as the candidate, has faced a setback as he is the party’s second choice. The BJP state President Nalin Kumar Kateel has rather thrown his weight behind Muniraju Gowda, who was the party’s candidate in the 2018 Assembly elections.
The setback for Munirathna comes as the two warring factions within the BJP have been indulging in a game of one-upmanship. Besides, Munirathna and Muniraju have been archrivals in the region for years now. both have been involved in a lengthy legal battle after Muniraju accused Munirathna of voter fraud. Based on a complaint filed by Muniraju in 2018, the police and Election Commission officials had raided an office belonging to Munirathna and recovered fake voter IDs. Despite this, Munirathna had won the elections.
A powerful figure in the RR Nagar constituency, the BJP leaders in the region were his rivals. “Now to give him a ticket is not acceptable. The party should give the chance to honest party workers instead of those who try to get tickets the easy way,” a senior BJP leader said.
Sources said that Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa is trying to get the ticket for Munirathna while BJP National General Secretary (Organisation), BL Santhosh is backing Muniraju Gowda.
Sources in the Congress said that Munirathna has approached his former mentor Siddaramaiah, hoping to rejoin the Congress party. However, the Congress has informed Munirathna that he would not be given a ticket as the party leaders in Karnataka want Kusuma Ravi to contest the bye-polls.
“DK Shivakumar is against Munirathna rejoining. Even if he joins the party, he won’t be given a ticket for sure. We had warned him that the BJP would go back on its word if he left. Now he has to pay for it,” a Congress MLA said.