An otherwise low-key bye-election in the three Lok Sabha and two Assembly seats in Karnataka on November 3 will see a clash of two high-profile leaders for the Ballari Lok Sabha seat in the state’s north-west mining heartland.
While the central team of the BJP has given MLA B Sriramulu from Ballari a free hand to pick his candidate in Ballari, Congress has entrusted DK Shivakumar, the district minister-in-charge of Ballari, with the responsibility to ensure a Congress victory in the constituency.
The BJP finalised its candidate for the Lok Sabha seat in Ballari after consulting with Sriramulu, who stepped down as the MP from Ballari when he was elected as an MLA earlier this year. Following a closed-door meeting on Tuesday evening, he has nominated his sister J Shanta for the seat. T Suresh Babu, a close relative of Sriramulu was considered for the seat.
While the Congress is yet to finalise its candidate, it is learnt that Venkatesh Prasad, brother of MLA B Nagendra, and senior leader Ramprasad are among those in the fray. The decision, however, will rest with Shivakumar after he chairs a meeting with state Congress leaders.
On November 3, three Lok Sabha seats in Mandya, Ballari Shivamogga and two State Assembly seats— Ramanagaram and Jankhandi - will go to polls.
With BS Yeddyurappa publicly stating that the Lok Sabha polls are “unnecessary” given that the tenure of the current House will expire in May 2019, the preparations for the elections have been low-key so far.
The BJP also announced that BY Raghavendra, son of BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa, will be the party's candidate in Shivamogga and Srikant Kulkarni will contest for the Jamkhandi Assembly seat.The Shivamogga seat was vacated by Yeddyurappa himself. It also notified that senior leaders including R Ashok, Govind Karjol and Sadananda Gowda will be part of committees in charge of the by-polls in the three Lok Sabha constituencies.
With the Congress and JD(S) top-brass agreeing to go for an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it is expected that the parties will agree to divide the five seats based on their local strength.
The JD(S) is expected to project a candidate in Jamkhandi and Ramanagara while the Congress is expected to field candidates in Shivamogga, Mandya and Ballari.