“No, Siddaramaiah is not contesting from two constituencies. He never even expressed any desire to do so.” With these words, Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge put to rest the rumours swirling around Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s candidature.
There was buzz earlier that Siddaramaiah would contest from both Chamundeshwari and Badami. But Kharge claimed that “the information was cooked up by the media”.
When asked whether he had objected to Siddaramaiah’s aspiration to contest from Badami as well, Kharge said that “such a thing never happened”.
“This is all cooked up by the media. I was in New Delhi for a meeting of the public accounts committee. Then suddenly there was news that Kharge is silent on the issue of Siddaramaiah contesting from two constituencies. He never asked and I never said no. This never happened. I was surprised by the news stories,” Kharge said in Kalaburgi.
Incumbent MLA of Badami, Chammannakatti, had met with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah last week. A video of the meeting has Chammannakatti telling leaders of North Karnataka that the Congress would get a boost in the northern districts if Siddaramaiah contested from Badami.
The statement was made amidst speculation that Siddaramaiah would contest two seats. When asked about Chammannakatti’s statement, Kharge said that the issue was resolved.
“Chammannakatti’s health is failing and he had decided to step down. The high command had decided to give the seat to a young face. But the people want him in Badami as he is a good leader. Yes, he had met Siddaramaiah and he also met me. We are all united,” Kharge said.
Speculation was rife every since internal surveys conducted by the state intelligence showed that there were high chances of Siddaramaiah would lose if he contested from Chamundeshwari.
Siddaramaiah is the incumbent MLA of Varuna; however, he has decided to give up the constituency to his son Dr Yathindra. As Siddaramaiah could make or break the morale of the party if he lost the election in Chamundeshwari, news spread that he was mulling over contesting two seats like HD Kumaraswamy, the Janata Dal (Secular) President.
On Monday, the Congress announced its first list of 218 candidates. Siddaramaiah had been given only one ticket. The Badami ticket was given to Chammannakatti. It was also rumoured that the party was mulling over handing over the nomination form to Chammanakatti as Siddaramaiah would file his nomination to contest from Badami in the last minute. But Kharge dismissed these rumours as well.