Council polls: JD(S), Cong. have uphill task picking candidates

The parties are dealing with disinclination and desertion

With just about a week before the Election Commission’s notification setting into motion the process of biennial elections to 25 seats of the Karnataka Legislative Council, the Opposition Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) are grappling with issues of candidature in seats that they have held so far.

As 25 members are completing their term in the Upper House on January 5, 2022, the elections are being held on December 10, the Election Commission announced on Tuesday. These members include 14 from Congress, six from BJP, four from JD(S), and one Independent.

Congress sources said some of its sitting members are disinclined to contest as they foresee difficulty to retain their seats owing to the changed composition in the gram panchayats. Not confident of victories, party sources said, Gopalaswamy in Hassan, Basavaraj Patil Itagi in Raichur, and M. Narayanaswamy in Bengaluru Rural, among others, have not shown interest. Former Council Chairman K. Prathapachandra Shetty in Dakshina Kannada has also indicated his unwillingness to contest citing health reasons though the Congress is likely to retain the seat. In Vijayapura, of the two seats, the party is likely to field only one candidate to enable victory for Leader of the Opposition S.R. Patil, sources said.

‘Reservation expressed’

Congress sources said the members have expressed reservation because the BJP has improved its position in gram panchayats (though not fought on party symbols), and also precedence has it that the ruling party has an edge in the biennial polls to the Council from local bodies.

In the light of the changed situation, sources acknowledged that it is hard for the party to retain the 13 seats that it held of the 25 seats going for polls. With less than 18 months for the Legislative Assembly polls, some of the members have also expressed their keenness to contest in 2023, skipping the ensuing polls, causing problems for the party leadership.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy said the party will finalise its candidate for Tumakuru after meeting local leaders, while candidates for Mysuru, Mandya, Ramanagaram, and Bengaluru Rural will be announced shortly.

Of the five JD(S) members retiring, C.R. Manohar, Kanthraj, and Sandesh Nagaraj, are learnt to be leaving the party following which the JD(S) is looking for fresh faces. Mr. Manohar and Mr. Nagaraj are speculated to get ticket from BJP.

“There is also demand from party leaders to contest in Raichur, Vijayapura, and Kalaburagi, which we are considering,” said Mr. Kumaraswamy. He also said that the candidate from Hassan will be decided by the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

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