With the Assembly elections around the corner, the Congress in Karnataka is now planning to announce its candidate list only after the Rajya Sabha polls.
Sources in the party say that it is looking to eliminate members who may cross-vote. “This is just a way to eliminate the multiple choices there are for each constituency,” the source added.
Congress insiders say that the 43-member election selection committee headed by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Dr G Parameshwara has two candidate lists and the party’s internal survey to consider before announcing the final list.
“The state intelligence survey on the existing Congress MLAs has been done in a phased manner. In each phase, the survey was conducted for 20 constituencies. Once the survey was completed, the results were verbally given to the respective leaders and they have been alerted to begin work to gain the voters’ trust. The survey was conducted thrice and several candidates have managed to gather the voters trust, while some have not,” the source added.
According to the survey results, several of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s close associates, who are sitting MLAs, have been warned that they may lose in the upcoming polls.
“Two of his closest aides, Minister for Public Works HC Mahadevappa and Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya have been warned of failing if they contest from their existing constituencies. Anjaneya also floated minor campaigns in Nelamangala and Mayakonda constituencies, but the results were worse than the survey figures of him losing from his existing Holalkere constituency. The party high command, however, is remaining tight-lipped regarding Anjaneya getting a ticket as they want to avoid cross-voting in Rajya Sabha polls,” the source added.
Similarly, the survey results are said to have predicted that Mahadevappa would lose if he contested from his T Narasipura constituency. Party sources say that Mahadevappa is planning to contest from Bengaluru’s CV Raman Nagar constituency and field his son Bose from T Narasipura.
“The survey results are not the only ones the party is going by to narrow down the candidates. There is a list of candidates which CM Siddaramaiah has submitted to the selection committee and the Mallikarjun Kharge-DK Shivakumar-Parameshwara alliance has come up with another list. In the committee meeting on Wednesday, it was decided that all the names which are common in all three lists will be announced in the first round,” the source added.
Another concern the selection committee is facing is of the Independent candidates who have joined the party and also those who have defected from the Janata Dal (Secular).
A member of the selection committee told TNM that even the committee is not privy to all the candidates vetted in the survey. “The high command has given us a list only for 90 constituencies now. We will get the rest after March 26. Also the high command does not want the sitting MLAs to become insecure and cross-vote in the Rajya Sabha polls. Pulakeshnagar Congress candidate Prasanna Kumar has already threatened to quit the party if JD(S) candidate who defected, Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, is selected. The sitting MLAs list will be announced only after March 26,” he said.
Insiders say that the high command has given strict instructions to vet “corrupt” candidates and also those who have lost by a margin of 25,000-plus votes in the 2013 elections.
The high command has also decided to field more Vokkaliga candidates in JD(S) strongholds.
Party sources said that the Vokkaliga and Veerashaiva leaders in the party have expressed severe dissatisfaction over several of its prominent leaders supporting the cause for a separate Lingayat religion.
“The Vokkaliga and the Veerashaiva candiates now have the support of the Dalit leaders as well. Since the Lingayat leaders in the party were gaining importance, they felt slighted and had threatened to launch a protest. The high command has asked CM Siddaramaiah to put the issue of a separate Lingayat religion on hold. This is because the party wants the Vokkaliga leaders to defeat the JD(S). It has enough Lingayat leaders to woo a section of the votes. Smashing JD(S) in Old Mysuru region has become the top priority now,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the BJP has already decided on 100 candidates and has asked them to begin campaigning in their constituencies.
Sources say that only those candidates with a strong RSS background, who have also got positive results in the internal survey, have been given tickets.
"Except for KS Eshwarappa (Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council) and a few other veteran leaders, every other candidate has been chosen solely on their winnability quotient and the candidate's background with RSS. Eshwarappa will be given ticket for Shivamogga and BS Yeddyurappa will contest from Shikaripur. Currently, Yeddyurappa's son Raghavendra is the Shikharipur MLA. He has been promised a ticket to contest from Shivamogga for the Lok Sabha polls," the source added.