According to sources, while MTB Nagaraj has an understanding with the BJP, he’s also hoping Congress revokes his expulsion and lets him come back.

Siddaramaiah hopes to bring down former associate MTB Nagaraj in Hoskote bye-polls
news Politics Sunday, September 01, 2019 - 17:15

Close associates have turned bitter rivals in Karnataka with former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah mulling names to pit against one of his closest aide-turned-foe MTB Nagaraj. Nagaraj was one of the rebels who ditched the Congress-JD(S) alliance, and ensured the fall of the alliance government in Karnataka, paving the way for BJP. While initially, Nagaraj blamed former PWD Minister HD Revanna for his dissatisfaction with the party, in recent times, he has been hitting out at his former mentor Siddaramaiah too. 

“These leaders came to our home – the Congress’s house – to live here and further their political careers. He (Siddaramaiah) came to the Congress because he fought with Deve Gowda. I have been with the party since I began my political career. I am not the one who betrayed my party. We are the ones who built the party, the loyalists,” MTB Nagaraj said. So far, Nagaraj has not joined the BJP officially. 

The former legislator from Hoskote, who is also the richest politician in Karnataka, had been a fierce supporter of Siddaramaiah. However, their relations turned sour after the Congress and JD(S) forged a coalition despite opposition from several party leaders including Nagaraj himself. With friendship turning into enmity, Siddaramaiah is now adamant that MTB Nagaraj must be defeated in the bye-polls slated for Hoskote, one of the 17 segments where the bye-elections will take place.

Sources close to Nagaraj said that the leader is hoping that the high command revokes his expulsion from the party and offers him a ticket to contest from Hoskote. However, party insiders say that Siddaramaiah is vehemently opposed to the idea.

“The BJP wants Nagaraj to join the party and they have promised to give him a ticket and in case the Supreme Court verdict on the disqualification of the 17 rebels leaders does not come through before the bye-polls. In case the court verdict doesn’t go in their favour, then the BJP has promised Nagaraj’s son a ticket,” a BJP source said.

However, the BJP is facing resistance from within the party on the question of MTB Nagaraj. Hoskote BJP leader Bacche Gowda, who wanted his son Sharath Bacche Gowda to get the ticket to contest the Hoskote bye-polls, is unhappy that Nagaraj and his son are being considered. Congress is planning to use this disgruntlement to their advantage – party sources said that Siddaramaiah is planning to lure Sharath Bacche Gowda into the Congress fold and pit him against MTB Nagaraj.

“If Bacche Gowda does not allow his son to contest on a Congress ticket, then Siddaramaiah is planning to field Hebbal MLA Byrathi Suresh’s wife. Byrathi Suresh has also started building up a base in Hoskote as Siddaramaiah has indicated to him that his wife may get a ticket,” the source said.

MTB Nagaraj has won the Hoskote segment thrice and has always contested against his arch rival Bacche Gowda. Gowda, who was earlier with the JD(S) and had won the Hoskote seat since 1994, had been defeated for the first time by MTB Nagaraj in 2004. However, during the 2008 elections, Bacche Gowda joined the BJP and defeated MTB Nagaraj. Ever since, the two leaders have been bitter rivals. “Since the BJP is planning to give MTB Nagaraj the it will be easy to convince Sharath Bacche Gowda to contest from Congress. If this happens, then Hoskote will be an easy win for Congress,” the source added.

 

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