BJP’s Karnataka list, sans Udupi MLA Bhat, former DCM K.S. Eshwarappa

No surprises here: Not a single Muslim candidate among the 52 new faces, and the BJP plays it safe, fielding most of the sitting MLAs in the Karnataka Assembly

The BJP released its list late on Tuesday evening for the 224-member Karnataka Assembly.
The BJP released its list late on Tuesday evening for the 224-member Karnataka Assembly.

Naheed Ataulla

There are 52 new names on the Bharatiya Janata Party's Karnataka election line-up of 189, and this is how they all represent:

·      51 Lingayats

·      41 Vokkaligas

·      32 OBCs

·      30 SCs

·      16 STs

·      7 Kurubas

·      10 women

While Kannada newspapers dutifully give this break-up for the nominations being filed from April 13 to April 20, no question is raised on why the party could not find a single Muslim in a state with 12 per cent Muslim population, read a tweet on Wednesday.

The BJP released its list late on Tuesday evening for the 224-member Karnataka Assembly. Predictably and true to type, the party had not only taken care of caste dynamics but had gone ahead and released the break-up of the candidates by caste! For a party purportedly envisions a casteless and united Hindu society, it was a spectacular self-goal.

The list of candidates came as an anti-climax to some observers who had predicted that a large number of sitting MLAs would be denied tickets. With the beleaguered BJP government facing strong anti-incumbency and mocked as a ’40 per cent sarkara’ due to corruption, a purge is what was expected. Instead, the BJP played it safe and denied nominations in the first list to only nine sitting MLAs. Significantly, among those denied the party ticket is Raghupathi Bhat, the MLA from Udupi who grabbed headlines after preventing Muslim students wearing hijab from entering a government college.

Some facts struck keen observers immediately:

·      Most of the 52 new faces have been fielded in the Old Mysuru area, the Vokkaliga stronghold where traditionally the contest has been between the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress, with the BJP coming in third.

·      Most of the new faces are also newcomers to the BJP from other parties, largely from the JD(S) and the Congress.

·      While the revenue minister of the state, R. Ashoka, has been fielded against D.K. Shivakumar of the Congress in the Kanakapura constituency, he  has also been given the ticket from his home constituency Padmanabhanagar in Bengaluru.

·      BJP has fielded housing minister V. Somanna from the Varuna constituency against another Congress stalwart, former chief minister Siddaramaiah. In doing so, the party has moved him out of his home constituency to give him the ticket for Chamarajanagar.

·      Two BJP veterans, Jagadish Shettar and K.S. Eshwarappa, have been dropped. While Eshwarappa bowed to the party diktat and announced his retirement from electoral politics, Shettar refused to be cowed. He was summoned to New Delhi on Tuesday, with former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa stating on Wednesday that Shettar is 99 per cent likely to get the ticket he sought.

·      Announcing his willingness to retire, Eshwarappa said, “Yediyurappa, Sadananda Gowda, Jagadish Shettar and Basavaraj Bommai all became BJP chief ministers but the party failed to get a majority in the Assembly.” Therefore, he added, he had decided he would rather campaign to help the party secure a majority.

·      While Yediyurappa has also announced his retirement from electoral politics, his son has been fielded from the Lingayat stalwart’s home turf Shikaripura in Shivamogga district.

·      Senior BJP MLC Laxman Savadi, an influential Lingayat leader in Belagavi district, announced he will quit the party. "Should I go with a begging bowl for a ticket after being in politics for two decades?’’ he asked. He has since joined the Congress, as of Wednesday.

·      Pramod Muthalik, the ardent right-wing leader and founder of fringe group Rashtriya Hindu Sena, has thrown his hat in the ring as an independent candidate from Karkala against minister V. Sunil Kumar.

Judging by all the protests following the announcement, BJP could face rebel candidates in several constituencies.

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Published: 12 Apr 2023, 6:13 PM