Bangalore: The ruling Congress and main opposition BJP in Karnataka are in for tough times in selecting candidates for the April-May Lok Sabha elections as their senior leaders or their supporters have publicly started fighting at the preliminary stage of short-listing names for approval by their central leaderships.
While dissidence over candidate selection in every election has become a norm in most parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are feeling the heat from the involvement of their high-profile leaders and face the prospects of the disaffection spreading to all the 28 Lok Sabha seats from the state.
The Congress, in particular, is in for greater embarrassment as the Dakshina Kannada constituency, about 350 km west of Bangalore, involves two prominent members of the party – former central minister B. Janardhana Poojary and union petroleum minister M. Veerappa Moily. Both hail from the region.
Poojary’s supporters say that the party’s Dakshina Kannada district unit had recommended only his name while the probable list prepared by the state Congress to be sent to the high command for approval includes the name of Moily’s son Harsha Moily.
Opposing the move, around 300 supporters of Poojary led by Dakshina Kannada unit leaders landed in Bangalore Thursday from Mangalore, the district’s main town, and met state Congress president G. Parameshwara and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to lodge their protest.
They told reporters that only Poojary can regain the seat for the Congress, though he had lost in 2009 to the BJP’s Nalin Kumar Kateel.
The rise of dissidence in Dakshina Kannada should be specially worrying for the Congress as the district, as well as neighbouring Udupi, had become BJP strongholds.
However, the Congress was on the road to recovery, winning seven of the eight seats in Dakshina Kannada and three of the five in Udupi in the assembly elections last May.
The Congress’ chances of regaining the Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha seat would be hit if the ugly spat between Poojary and Moily does not end.
Udupi is now part of the Chikmagalur-Udupi Lok Sabha constituency, which was wrested from the BJP by K. Jayaprakash Hegde of the Congress in a byelection in March 2012.
The bypoll was caused as the BJP’s D.V. Sadananda Gowda vacated the seat to become Karnataka’s chief minister.
The senior Moily represents Chikkaballapur Lok Sabha constituency and is being renominated from there.
Like the Congress, the BJP too is witnessing a public fight between Sadananda Gowda, now a member of the Karnataka legislative council, and former BJP deputy chief minister R. Ashoka over who should contest the Bangalore North Lok Sabha seat, held by their party colleague D.B. Chandre Gowda.
The constituency has a large number of voters from the Vokkaliga community. All three BJP leaders hail from the community.
The BJP is not interested in renominating Chandre Gowda as he is 78.
Ashoka, who now represents the Padmanabha Nagar assembly constituency in Bangalore, is opposing a ticket for Sadananda Gowda as he is an “outsider” hailing from Dakshina Kannada.
At a state BJP leaders’ meeting here Wednesday, the two were reportedly pulled up for going public with their fight for the ticket and told to mend their ways.
From the present goings-on, both the Congress and the BJP would have to devote as much attention to containing dissidence in the respective parties over candidate selection as to working for the victory of the nominees.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at email@example.com)