40 mn Karnataka voters, parties struggle to get new faces

Bangalore, April 16 (Inditop) Karnataka has a population of over 50 million, of which 40 million are eligible to vote. But political parties, mainly the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have struggled to get fresh candidates for the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats.

Voting will take place in 17 constituencies on April 23 and in the remaining 11 on April 30.

The lack of “winning” new faces in spite of hundreds of ticket seekers has made the parties bank on veterans or state legislators.

Five former chief ministers and eight legislators are in the Lok Sabha battle. Three of them belong to the Congress – N. Dharam Singh from Bidar, M. Veerappa Moily from Chikkaballapur and S. Bangarappa from Shimoga.

The other two former chief ministers are the father-son combine of former prime minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) president H.D. Deve Gowda (Hassan) and state JD-S head H.D. Kumaraswamy (Bangalore Rural).

Eight legislators – seven assembly members and one legislative council member – are seeking to enter the Lok Sabha.

They are Kumaraswamy, state youth Congress president Krishna Byregowda from Bangalore South, former Congress state president Mallikarjun Kharge from Gulbarga, fellow Congressmen Prakash B. Hukkeri from Chikkodi and R. Dhruvanarayan from Chamarajanagar; Revunaik Belamagi of the BJP from Gulbarga and B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan of the JD-S from Bangalore Central.

The lone legislative council member is Prakash K. Rathod of the Congress from Bijapur.

Two Congress legislators have quit the party and the assembly to contest on the BJP ticket. They are Gurupadappa Nagamarpalli from Bidar and C.P. Yogeshwar, a Kannada film actor and producer, from Bangalore Rural.

All the former chief ministers in the field have tasted defeats, either in the assembly or Lok Sabha polls.

Moily and Deve Gowda have lost a Lok Sabha poll while Bangarappa, Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy have been defeated in assembly elections.

Dharam Singh, elected to the assembly eight terms in a row, was defeated in May 2008. He is seeking to enter the Lok Sabha for the first time.

The other veteran Congress legislator, Mallikarjun Kharge, has won the assembly elections for the ninth time. Like Dharam Singh, he is trying his luck in a Lok Sabha poll for the first time.

The Congress also has the credit of fielding at least three more veterans who have tasted defeat in Lok Sabha polls – former railways minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief (Bangalore North), former junior finance minister in Indira Gandhi’s government B. Janardhana Poojary (Dakshina Kannada) and former party general secretary Margaret Alva from Uttara Kannada.

The BJP takes the credit for fielding the highest number of ‘defectors’, followed by the Congress.

The BJP has nominated former Congressmen D.B. Chandre Gowda from Bangalore North, L.R. Shivarame Gowda from Mandya, Gurpadappa Nagmarpalli from Bidar, C.P. Yogeshwar, a Kannada film actor-producer and a realtor, from Bangalore Rural.

Chandre Gowda takes on Sharief; Shivarame Gowda faces M.H. Ambareesh of the Congress, a Kannada film actor and central junior minister, Nagmarapalli is pitted against Dharam Singh and Yogeshwar battles Kumaraswamy and sitting member Tejaswini Gowda of the Congress.

The Congress managed to get only two defectors – H.T. Sangliana and Manjunath Kunnur – both from the BJP.

Sangliana, a former Bangalore city police commissioner, had won the Bangalore North Lok Sabha seat in 2004, defeating Sharief. He is now contesting from Bangalore Central, a new constituency following the recent re-drawing of constituencies.

Kunnur is contesting from Dharwad.

In the case of Bangarappa, it is homecoming. From the Congress he went to the BJP and later to the Samajwadi Party. He is in the fray from his home-district Shimoga against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s son and BJP candidate B.Y. Raghavendra.

With JD-S prospects not considered bright, it could not net any big fish from either the Congress or the BJP.

It has fielded candidates only in 23 constituencies. Its Third Front allies, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Communist Party of India (CPI), will contest one seat each.