BJP fields heavyweights against top Cong leaders in Assembly polls, announces 189 candidates
The party declared candidates for 189 constituencies out of the total 224 and the list includes 52 new faces
Taking the fight to the opposition camp, the ruling BJP has chosen to field heavyweights against top Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar in the May 10 Karnataka Assembly elections, spicing up the poll scene.
The party declared candidates for 189 constituencies out of the total 224 and the list includes 52 new faces.
At least eight legislators including Minister Angara, representing Sulia, have been denied the ticket.
In a dramatic move, the party announced that senior Ministers V Somanna and R Ashoka would take on former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Congress chief Shivakumar in Varuna and Kanakapura, respectively.
Somanna will also contest from Chamarajanagar, and Ashoka from Padmanabhanagar segments.
Former Minister C P Yogeshwar would once again cross sword with Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy, a former Chief Minister, in Channapatna.
Somanna belongs to Lingayat community which has a large presence in Varuna, while Ashoka is seen as BJP's prominent Vokkaliga face, the community to which Shivakumar also belongs to.
As expected, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will seek reelection from his traditional Shiggaon constituency, while B Y Vijayendra would enter fray from Shikaripura, the seat vacated by his father and former CM B S Yediyurappa, who has announced retirement from electoral politics.
Announcing the names at a press conference in New Delhi, BJP's Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh said 32 of the candidates belong to OBCs, 30 Scheduled Castes and 16 Scheduled Tribes.
The first list has nine doctors, five advocates, three academics, one retired IAS officer, one retired IPS officer, three retired government employees and eight social activists, he said.
According to party sources, among the candidates 51 are Lingayats and 41 are Vokkaligas, the two dominant communities in the State.
In Vijayanagara, the party has given ticket to Siddharth Singh instead of his father and Minister Anand Singh, while in Athani it has denied ticket to former Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi and has given it to Mahesh Kumathalli, who had helped BJP form government in 2019, by defecting from the Congress.
There are some reports that Savadi may now join the Congress.
Most of the MLAs who defected and joined BJP, there by helping it to come to power, and also succeeded winning the subsequent bypolls on a BJP ticket, have retained their seats.
The party has not announced tickets yet to Shivamogga and Hubballi-Dharwad Central, the seats represented by senior leaders K S Eshwarappa and Jagadish Shettar.
Former deputy Chief Minister Eshwarappa had on Tuesday told the party's central leadership that he wishes to retire from electoral politics and requested it to not consider fielding him in the Assembly polls, while former chief minister Shettar said the party top brass told him to make way for others, but asserted he wants to contest one last time.
Minister Angara is among those who have not got the ticket, while most of his cabinet colleagues have got the nod.
Seven other sitting MLAs who have not been fielded again are-- Lalaji R Mendon (Kapu), Raghupathi Bhat (Udupi), Anil S Benake (Belagavi North), Sanjeev Matandur (Putturu), Mahadevappa Shivalingappa Yadawad MLA (Ramadurg), Ramanna Lamani (Shirahatti), and Goolihatti D Shekhar (Hosadurga).
The party is yet to announce its candidates for 35 seats.
The filing of nominations will begin on April 13, with the poll notification being issued, and the last day for filing papers is April 20.
The BJP, aiming to return to power in Karnataka with absolute majority, has set a target of winning at least 150 of the total 224 seats in the Assembly.