Seeking to wrest power from the Congress in Karnataka, the BJP in its first list of 72 candidates has included state party heavyweights like B S Yeddyurappa, K S Eshwarappa, B Sriramulu and Congress defectors like Malikayya Venkayya Guttedar.
The BJP Central Election Committee at its meeting chaired by party chief Amit Shah and attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday approved the first list for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections. The meeting was preceded by a show of strength with the BJP inducting former Congress MLA Malikayya Guttedar. He found mention in the first list of candidates, with the BJP fielding him from Alzalpur constituency. Another defector, Mallikarjun Khuba, has been accommodated in Basavakalyan.
BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Yeddyurappa will contest from his bastion Shikaripura constituency.
Resting all speculation, the party will field Eshwarappa from Shivamogga constituency. The ticket to Eshwarappa, who lost his seat in 2013, comes as no surprise as the leader has made all the right calls including hosting a dinner for party president Amit Shah in Shivamogga when the latter visited the district last week. The dinner diplomacy seems to have worked for him.
Sriramulu, a close aide of the infamous Reddy brothers, will be contesting away from Ballari — a seat he famously won after he parted ways with the BJP just before the 2013 elections. This time round he will contest from Molakalmuru.
Sitting MLAs Aravind Limbavali, Vijayakumar, Appachu Ranjan, R Ashoka, Ravi Subramanya, S Suresh Kumar, Ashwath Narayana, C T Ravi, S Muniraju, S Raghu, Haladi Srinivas Shetty, Basavraj Bommai, Jagadish Shettar, CM Udasi, Kageri Vishwanath, Govind Karjol, Laxman Savadi among others will contest from the seats they won in the last election.
The next list of BJP, largely comprising controversial seats, is likely to be announced in the third week of this month.The BJP’s CEC meeting was preceded by marathon meetings of Shah with key party leaders, including Yeddyurappa, Union Ministers — Prakash Javdekar, Ananth Kumar, besides general secretaries — P Mualidhar Rao, Anil Jain and Bhupendra Yadav.
Lingayat factor:The meeting also took stock of the Congress bid to make inroads into the saffron base in the Lingayat community and state govt’s decision to accord minority religion status.