The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday confirmed Eranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti as the party's names for the June 19 biennial elections to two Rajya Sabha seats. The announcement comes as a shock to many as several prominent candidates were sidelined to pave way for second-rung leaders within the party.
Eranna Kadadi, 55, who began his political career in 1989, identified himself as a member of the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member. He was president of the BJP's Gokak unit and the Belagavi Rural unit. He contested the Assembly elections from the Arabhavi constituency in 1994 losing out to Koujalagi Veeranna Shivalingappa of the Congress.
Ashok Gasti, 55, hails from Raichur and also came through the ranks in the BJP after a stint with the ABVP. He has held roles within the party's Ballari and Raichur units and was also the head of the BJP's Backward Classes Commission in Karnataka.
By naming the duo, the BJP decided to sideline Prabhakar Kore, one of the current Rajya Sabha MPs whose term expires on June 25, and Ramesh Katti, brother of BJP MLA from Hukkeri Umesh Katti.
A meeting held by the Kattis with a group of MLAs from north Karnataka earlier in May, raised eyebrows last month, after speculations of dissent arose. The meeting was held without the presence of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa with the purpose of expressing dissatisfaction over being sidelined.
Ramesh Katti was overlooked during the Lok Sabha elections as well when the BJP fielded Annasaheb Jolle from Chikkodi constituency. Ramesh was an aspirant for the Chikkodi ticket and was disappointed. To their disgruntlement, the high command did not allocate a ministerial berth for Katti when the cabinet expansion occurred in 2019.
Four seats from Karnataka are falling vacant, including two from Congress - Rajeev Gowda and BK Hariprasad - and one from BJP - Prabhakar Kore - and one from Janata Dal (Secular) - Kupendra Reddy.
In the Karnataka Assembly, BJP has 117 seats and the Congress and the JD(S) have 68 and 34 respectively. To elect a candidate, one requires 44 votes. The BJP will be able to elect two members and will have 28 surplus votes along with the support of two independents to and will not be able to contest a for a third seat. The Congress can elect only one and the JD(S) cannot elect anyone, as it is short by 10 votes. If the Congress and the JD(S) form an alliance, it can bag one more seat.
The Congress has fielded veteran leader and a former leader of the opposition in the 16th Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge while the JD(S) has resolved to nominate party supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy confirmed on Monday morning that Deve Gowda will be the party's nomination.