As elections for the Karnataka Legislative Council loom close, political lobbying continues, with several BJP leaders aspiring to be elected. Among the front runners are former Hoskote MLA MTB Nagaraj, one of the richest politicians in the state, who was instrumental in bringing down the Congress-JD(S) coalition in June 2019.
BJP insiders indicate that former Channapatna MLA CP Yogeeshwar, who was key to enabling the defection of 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs to the BJP, is likely to get elected to the Legislative Council.
Yogeeshwar had lost his home turf Channapatna to former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in the Karnataka Assembly elections in 2018. Yogeeshwar had defected from the Congress to the BJP as the INC snubbed the senior leader, giving away his ticket to the JD(S) on a pre-poll alliance. A strongman from the Vokkaliga community, he was among the team of BJP leaders who held talks with Congress and JD(S) MLAs, and convinced them to defect and bring down the coalition government.
MTB Nagaraj, who had won the Legislative Assembly elections for three consecutive terms, suffered a massive defeat against independent candidate and former BJP leader Sharath Bache Gowda in the December 2019 bye-polls. MTB Nagaraj, who is a strongman from Hoskote, was accused by his former party (the Congress) of accepting Rs 50 crore to defect to the BJP. He was also aspiring to become a Minister upon winning the bye-elections. However, due to his defeat, he is now lobbying for an MLC seat, with the aspiration of bagging a ministry.
Former Hunsur MLA AH Vishwanth, who defected from the JD(S), met Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Thursday and lobbied for a ticket, BJP sources say. Vishwanath too harbours ministerial ambitions. He had defected from the JD(S) as he was unhappy about being sidelined, despite being named the partyâ€™s state president. Vishwanath, who had incurred debt to contest polls, was aspiring to be a Minister. He had defected to the BJP hoping to snag a ministry, but was kept out as he lost the bye-polls in Hunsur.
â€śAH Vishwanath is very unlikely to get a seat as an MLC. There are many other candidates who are more deserving. Vishwanthâ€™s political ideology does not sit well with the high command and he does not have an RSS background. This may be why he is unlikely to get selected as a candidate,â€ť a BJP leader said.
For the quota reserved for women, three names have emerged in the BJP including long-time party spokesperson and actor Malavika Avinash as well as former actors Sruthi and Tara Arundathi. All three women have been with the BJP for a long time. However, sources say that Malavika Avinash has the upper hand as she has been more vocal and visible within the party due to her efforts in the state unit.
The lobbying began ahead of the BJPâ€™s core committee meeting slated to be held on Saturday where candidates for the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council will be shortlisted.
JD(S) aspirants for Rajya Sabha apprehensive
Among the names that emerged in the JD(S) camp regarding nominating a candidate to the Rajya Sabha were Muddahanume Gowda from Tumakauru and Kupendra Reddy. However, a section of party leaders want party supremo HD Deve Gowda to be nominated.
â€śIt will be good for an experienced politician like former Prime Minister Deve Gowda to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha as we need a strong face to fight for the farmers of Karnataka,â€ť said JD(S) MLA Shivalinge Gowda.
However, JD(S) sources close to Deve Gowda said that a section of leaders have expressed concerns over his nomination. â€śHe is old and his presence is required to build the party from the ground up in Karnataka. Whatever influence JD(S) had in the old Mysuru region is fading away as the BJP is taking over. If he is elected to the Rajya Sabha, his presence would be minimal, which is concerning,â€ť the JD(S) source added.