With the Karnataka Assembly and Lok Sabha bye-polls slated for November 3, the three major parties in the state are gearing up to make sure they win. The JD(S) on Sunday evening finalised candidates for the Mandya and Shivamogga Lok Sabha seats.
The Ramanagaram and Jamkhandi assembly seats and the Shivamogga, Mandya and Ballari seats are currently vacant, polls for which will be held next month. The Ramanagaram seat was vacated by CM HD Kumaraswamy as he had won both the Ramanagaram and Channapattana seats in 2018. The MLA from Jamkhandi, Siddu Nyamagouda, had passed away in an accident in May earlier this year, soon after the Assembly elections.
The three Lok Sabha seats became vacant after BS Yeddyurappa from Shivamogga, B Sriramulu from Ballari and CS Puttaraju from Mandya resigned as MPs to contest the 2018 Assembly polls.
The party has chosen Madhu Bangarappa for the Shivamogga seat and has finalised Shivarame Gowda as the candidate to contest the Mandya seat. The BJP, meanwhile, is planning to nominate BY Raghavendra, son of two-day CM of the state, BS Yeddyurappa, from Shivamogga. The party has chosen former bureaucrat Siddaramaiah to contest from Mandya.
Madhu Bangarappa, the son of former Karnataka Chief Minister Sorekoppa Bangarappa, is now the chosen candidate of the JD(S) to contest the Lok Sabha bye-polls from Shivamogga. A businessman-turned-politician, Madhu won the Sorab Assembly seat during the 2013 polls but lost to his brother Kumar in 2018.
Madhu Bangarappa was a former BJP leader, who joined the JD(S) owing to the strained relationship with his brother. Kumar Bangarappa was a former minister in SM Krishna’s cabinet and later joined BJP when the family feud blew out of proportion.
The problems in S Bangarappa’s family came out in the open when Kumar Bangarappa became a minister in S M Krishna’s cabinet. Madhu Bangarappa had during that time, incurred severe losses in his business and Kumar had refused to support him during his struggle.
The rift between the brothers widened in a run-up to the 2004 Assembly elections when Bangarappa fielded Madhu from Sorab on a BJP ticket. Kumar, who was a minister, resigned from Congress to join BJP on his father’s directions but returned to Congress on the same day when his brother Madhu was given the ticket.
After Bangarappa’s death in 2011, the feud between the brothers escalated with Madhu preventing Kumar from participating in the last rites of their father.
A businessman and educationist, Shivarame Gowda was a two-time Congress MLA, who had defected to the BJP due to internal differences. Shivarame Gowda had joined the BJP in 2009 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and was defeated by N Cheluvarayaswamy, who was then with the JD(S).
Shivarame Gowda runs educational institutions in Bengaluru and one of his most successful ventures is the Royal Concorde International School in Bengaluru’s Kalyan Nagar. Shivarame Gowda is also the Chairman of the Karnataka Private School Management Joint Action Committee for CBSE, ICSE, IGSCE, IB and state syllabus and the Karnataka Federation Independent Schools Management.
Gowda had defected from BJP and joined the JD(S) on April 11, 2017, along with Congress leader K Suresh Babu, ahead of the 2018 state Assembly elections. Back then, Shivarame Gowda and Suresh Babu were both promised tickets to contest by JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda.
Suresh Kumar was given the ticket to contest from Nagamangala in Mandya district. He is now the MLA of Nagamangala. However, Shivarame Gowda was not given a ticket to contest and the ticket given to him now is the party’s way of making up to him, sources say.
The party is also fielding Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of CM HD Kumaraswamy, from Ramanagaram. Ramanagara Assembly constituency is a bastion of the JD(S). Ever since party president HD Kumaraswamy contested polls in 2004 from this area, the seat has never been lost to another party.
JD(S) insiders say that since Ramanagara is a district dominated by the Vokkaliga and the Muslim community, it has always been difficult for the BJP to make inroads.
The Congress, however, is fielding Anand Nyamagouda, son of the deceased Jamkhandi MLA Siddu Nyamagouda Patil. The party is banking on sympathy votes, just like it did in the 2017 Gundlupet bye-poll when it fielded Mohan Kumari, wife of the deceased MLA Mahadevprasad.
Popular among sugarcane farmers of Bagalkot’s Jamkhandi due of his efforts to build a barrage across the Krishna at Chikkapadasalagi village, Siddu Nyamagouda shot to fame in 1989. He completed the barrage in the taluk and helped irrigate the sugarcane fields solely with public contributions. He is fondly known as “Barrage Siddu” ever since.
The Congress party is yet to announce a candidate for the Ballari bye-poll owing to severe warring between various factions within the party. However, insiders say that it is learnt that Venkatesh Prasad, brother of Ballari MLA B Nagendra, is likely to get the ticket.
The battle in Ballari, party insiders say, is a proxy one between Water Resource Minister and the Congress’ troubleshooter, DK Shivakumar, and Molakalmuru MLA and BJP’s strategist B Sriramulu.
“When the BJP tried their hand at horse-trading, DK Shivakumar was the one who put an end to the deals being proposed by Sriramulu. The BJP needed just nine more candidates and if Shivakumar had not intervened, they would have poached the MLAs easily. Sriramulu was put in charge of ensuring that the BJP had its numbers on the day of the trust vote. When the BJP could not ensure that they had numbers, they withdrew the motion for a trust vote and walked out. Ever since the game of one-upmanship began between DK Shivakumar and Sriramulu,” a Congress source said.
Sriramulu has decided to field his sister J Shantha from Ballari. Congress Party MLAs from the Ballari are divided, with MLAs B Nagendra, Bheema Naik and their followers backing Venkatesh Prasad. The Hosapete MLA Anand Singh and others are opposing Venkatesh Prasad’s nomination fearing that Nagendra’s influence in the region could surpass the other MLAs.
The party is also looking into fielding VS Ugrappa as a compromise candidate. Ugrappa is a party loyalist and an ardent supporter of former CM Siddaramaiah. Although there are 12 aspirants in the Congress for the Ballari ticket, sources in that party say that DK Shivakumar will have the final word on the matter and he is keen on fielding Venkatesh Prasad.
Dissent has been brewing within the BJP and the Congress due to the choice of candidates. BJP’s Srinivas is threatening to contest as an independent candidate from Ballari due to Sriramulu’s decision to field his sister.
The Congress is also witnessing dissent from various leaders in the party over the selection of candidates for bye-polls. The rebels are mostly from Mandya and Ramanagara areas where the Congress had to compromise and allow JD(S) candidates to contest.
Sources in the party revealed that leader Ravikumar Gowda, who lost in Mandya during the Assembly elections in May this year, was hoping to get a ticket.
“Ravikumar has vowed not to support the JD(S) candidate and not to campaign for him. The JD(S) and Congress’ senior leaders had decided that they would support each other during the campaign. Ravikumar is saying he will not do so,” a party source said.
In Ramanagara too, Congress leaders are unwilling to support JD(S) candidate Anita Kumaraswamy. Congress leader Iqbal Hussain, an aspirant for the Ramanagaram ticket, is unhappy with the party’s decision. “He tried to request DK Suresh, MP of Ramanagara, to reconsider but since the high command has decided that the Congress would support JD(S), nothing could be done. He is also unwilling to help JD(S) win,” the source added.