BJP banks on old guard in Karnataka, despite the cases against them

B.S. Yeddyurappa with Amit Shah and party members in a public meeting in Gadag
B.S. Yeddyurappa with Amit Shah and party members in a public meeting in Gadag | PTI

Many of the 154 candidates declared in the first two lists were ministers & MLAs when BJP won Karnataka in 2008, but also face criminal & corruption charges.

Bengaluru: The Congress and the BJP have adopted a wait-and-watch policy in declaring their candidates for the Karnataka assembly elections. The opposition BJP is releasing its list in three installments, and has pinned its hopes on the old guard which is assured of victory, rather than new faces that may cause embarrassment.

The BJP’s second list, released Monday, is devoid of surprises, featuring almost the same set of leaders who took it to power for the first time in a southern state, back in 2008. However, going with these leaders again is a double-edged sword, since some of them have faced criminal and corruption charges in the past.

It is not that the Congress or the JD(S) have no tainted candidates, but it is quite clear that despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the Congress government of Siddaramaiah of being a ‘10 per cent commission’ government, the party seems to have no other choice but to back all those politicians who are facing cases in the hope of achieving its target of toppling Siddaramaiah’s government.

The ‘tainted’ candidates

Former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who is leading the BJP’s charge in these elections, has been named in the alleged multi-million mining scam exposed by the former Lokayukta Santosh Hegde.

Somashekhar Reddy, has been named in the alleged mining scam along with his brother, former minister and mining baron Janardhan Reddy.

Katta Subramanya Naidu, who served as the housing minister in the Yeddyurappa government, later spent time in jail for the alleged multi-crore Karnataka Industrial Development Board scam.

V. Somanna faces disproportionate assets cases for allegedly amassing wealth during his tenure as housing minister.

Laxman Savadi was embroiled in a pornography scandal, when he and two other MLAs were allegedly watching porn on the floor of the legislature.

A. Halappa faced a leaked CD case, where it was alleged that he had try to sexually assault a woman. He was later acquitted by the courts.

B. Sriramulu, closest confidant of the Reddy brothers and now seen as a rising star in the BJP, also faces question marks because of his close association with the mining scam accused.

Protests against Yeddyurappa

Just as voices of dissent were heard against the Congress from hopefuls who claimed they were promised tickets from constituencies such as Mayakonda, Kunigal, Kolar, and Kittur among others, the BJP too has begun to see similar dissent. Supporters of Prakash Kandre from Bhalki burned posters of Yeddyurappa and the BJP flag as a sign of revolt.

Interesting omission

While the Congress has declared its candidates for 218 of the state’s 224 seats in the first list released Sunday evening, the BJP so far declared 154 candidates, but has held back the names for two seats that are firmly in the spotlight.

It is yet to announce who will take on CM Siddaramaiah in Chamundeshwari and the CM’s son Yathindra in Varuna. These candidates are expected to be declared in the third list, along with 68 others.

Many have tipped Yeddyurappa’s younger son B.Y. Vijayendra to take on Yathindra in Varuna, but party sources say BJP is waiting to see if any defectors from the Congress come aboard.

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