The high command, which had ignored the state unit’s suggestions for the Rajya Sabha elections, has now accommodated CM BS Yediyurappa’s list of suggested candidates.

R Shankar and MTB nagaraj
news Politics Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 12:03

The BJP on Wednesday night announced four candidates, who will contest the elections for the Karnataka Legislative Council Elections, slated to be held on June 25. The party has chosen former Hoskote MLA MTB Nagaraj, former Ranebennur MLA ‘Pendulum’ R Shankar, leader from Chincholi Sunil Vallyapure and Dakshina Kannada leader Pratap Simha Nayak as the candidates. 

With 117 seats in the Legislative Assembly, the BJP can nominate four members to the Council. 

MTB Nagaraj, a former loyalist of Congress’ Siddaramaiah, had quit the party and joined BJP in May last year along with 16 other MLAs from Congress and JD(S). They were flown in via chartered aircraft and lodged at a hotel in Mumbai. These defections had ultimately brought down the Congress-JD(S) coalition government. However, MTB Nagaraj, who contested the bye-elections to reclaim his Hoskote seat in December 2019, suffered a massive defeat against novice and former BJP Yuva Morcha Leader Sharat Bache Gowda, who contested as an independent. With the defeat, MTB Nagaraj lost out on his chance to become a minister. 

R Shankar of the Karnataka Pragnyavanta Janata Paksha had won the 2018 Assembly Elections in Ranebennur, and had initially offered his support to the Congress-JD(S) coalition. Within a day of making this decision, R Shankar decided to ally with the BJP after holding talks with BS Yediyurappa. Within a span of 24 hours, he was back to supporting the coalition, gaining him the moniker Pendulum. 

Like Nagaraj, R Shankar had supported the BJP in bringing down the government with hopes of snagging a ministerial berth. However, he too lost the December 2019 bye-polls contesting as a BJP candidate. Both Nagaraj and Shankar are now hoping to join Yedidyurappa’s cabinet as MLCs. 

The BJP accommodated Sunil Vallyapure, the leader from Chincholi, as he had stepped aside when the party offered the ticket to Dr Avinash Umesh Jadav, son of Kalaburagi MP Umesh Jadav. Umesh Jadav had defected from the Congress to the BJP in 2019 after resigning from his post as Chincholi MLA. Upon his defection, the BJP had offered a ticket to Avinash Jadav while sidelining Sunil Vallyapure. Sunil is a long-time leader from Chincholi and had won the 2008 Assembly Elections from the Chincholi constituency. A loyalist of BS Yediyurappa, Sunil had also quit the BJP and had followed Yeddiyurappa when he split from the BJP and had briefly formed his own party -- Karnataka Janata Paksha. Sunil had lost the 2013 Assembly Elections to Umesh Jadav after he contested on a KJP ticket in 2013.

The high command, which had ignored the state unit’s suggestions for the Rajya Sabha elections, has now accommodateD CM BS Yediyurappa’s list of suggested candidates. While three of the four MLC candidates were handpicked by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, the high command also accommodated the demands of the party’s Karnataka President Nalin Kumar Katell and allowed BJP Dakshina Kannada district President Pratap Simha Nayak to be nominated to the Legislative Council. The party had to let go of two top contenders -- CP Yogeeshwar (former Channapatna MLA) and AH Vishwanath (former JD(S) MLA from Hunsur who defected to BJP and lost the December 2019 bye-polls). 

CP Yogeeshwar, the former Channapatna MLA, was aspiring to become an MLC. A member of the RSS, Yogeeshwar was instrumental in holding talks with Congress and JD(S) rebels, and gaining their support to bring down the coalition government in June 2019. Sources in the BJP say that sidelining Yogeeshwar has left him unhappy and that he is currently in talks with Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar, with hopes of joining the Congress. Yogeeshwar was also one of the candidates referred by Nalin Kumar Kateel. 

The infighting between BS Yediyurappa and Nalin Kumar Kateel is not new as both leaders have been trying to assert dominance within the state unit for quite some time. With MTB Nagaraj, R Shankar and Sunil Vallyapure bagging tickets to contest MLC elections, Yediyurappa had prevailed in the game of one-upmanship this time around.