The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released its first list of 72 candidates for the 12 May Karnataka Assembly Election on Sunday, which included prominent names such as the party's chief ministerial face BS Yeddyurappa, veterans such as KS Eshwarappa, B Sreeramulu, and Jagadish Shettar among others.
The committee met under the party's national president Amit Shah and among its members, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the meeting at the party's head office in New Delhi.
BJP becomes the second party after Janata Dal (Secular) to announce a limited candidate list for the 12 May polls, that is fast turning into one of the most fiercely contested polls in recent times.
The BJP had in 2013 won just 44 seats. But the Karnataka Janata Party which was floated by Yeddyurappa and Sreeramulu in December 2012 had merged with the BJP taking the number to 48. The duo had floated their own own party following the indictment of Yedyurappa, the then CM, by the Lokayukta in the multi-crore mining scam.
Shettar, who had served as the CM of Karnataka between 2012 and 2013, will contest from Hubli-Dharwad Central. He is also the Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly. KS Eshwarappa will enter the fray from Shivamogga. He is the Leader of Opposition in the current Legislative Assembly. He had served as the Deputy CM between July 2012 and May 2013 in the Shettar government.
The party has fielded Bommai from Shiggaon, Udasi from Hangal, Hegde from Sirsi and B Sriramulu from Molakalmuru (Reserved). Sashikala is re-contesting from her Nippani seat. Roopali will contest from Karwar and Srinivas from Hiriyur. Roopali is a former corporator from Bengaluru and Srinivas is the secretary of the party’s women wing.
The list also has the names of defectors who recently joined the BJP from the Congress and JD(S). The names that have figured in the list are Malikaiah Guttedar from Afzalpur and Subhash Guttedar from Aland, Mallikarjun Khuba from Basavakalyan, BS Yatnal from Bijapur city and CP Yogishwar from Channapatna.
The list comes on the day that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was in Bengaluru and attacking the BJP on issues of corruption and other serious charges.
The BJP is trying to emulate the success of its recent outings in Uttar Pradesh among other states while the Congress is using all its might to stop the right from taking control of Karnataka, one of the last few states still under its rule.
Karnataka has turned into a three way contest between the JD (S), Congress and the BJP, though the last two have been targeting each other. Congress is hoping to retain Karnataka and with it revive the party nationally after it was reduced to double digits in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Karnataka is one of the last big states to go the polls before Lok Sabha elections, which is being considered an indicator of which way the country is expected to vote.
Here's a quick look at some of the key candidates mentioned in the first list:BS Yeddyurappa
The Karnataka BJP head and former chief minister is one of the only two Members of Parliament (MPs) who has been given a ticket to contest the state polls. He will be contesting from his home turf Shikaripura assembly constituency in Shivamogga district.
Projected as the party's chief ministerial candidate, Yeddyurappa has been elected from Shikaripura to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly for seven terms in the past. A prominent leader of the Lingayat community, the BJP state chief tried to float his own party, Karnataka Janata Party, prior to the 2013 Assembly polls but later joined hands with BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Recently, Yeddyurappa undertook a 75-day Parivartana Yatra covering a distance of around 6,000 kilometres to strengthen the party’s support base across the state. He was the first chief minister of Karnataka to spent 25 days in prison for corruption.
Speaking on calls for a separate Lingayat religion, Yeddyurappa told Firstpost, "BJP has never used religion or caste to win elections. We believe in nationalism. For us, everyone is a proud child of Mother India. About this Lingayat-Veerashaiva issue, BJP’s consistent stand has been that the Akhila Bharatha Veerashaiva Mahasabha, the apex body of the entire community, should guide the society. We will go by that."KS Eshwarappa
In a crucial move, BJP has given KS Eshwarappa, Yeddyurappa's arch rival, the ticket to contest from Shivamogga city assembly constituency. The move is seen as an attempt by the BJP top brass to put an end to the rift between the two leaders. Currently the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, party workers had expressed their discontent that if Eshwarappa was offered the ticket, BJP would be defeated, as was the case in the 2013 Assembly polls.
Eshwarappa is a Kuruba, but his influence in the community remains limited as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is a more popular leader among the Kurubas, backward castes and Dalits. A firm believer in Hindutva, he launched the Sangolli Rayanna Brigade in 2016, an organisation named after an 18th-century warrior to mobilise the backward castes, a move which was viewed by many party members as a way to create alternate centres of power with the BJP in the region.Jagadish Shettar
A lawyer and Lingayat leader, former Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shivappa Shettar will be contesting from Hubli-Dharwad Central constituency. In 2008, he was elected to the Assembly for the fourth time from the constituency with a margin of 26,000 votes.
Earlier an activist with Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Shettar comes from a family that's rooted in the erstwhile Jan Sangh. He is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly. In March this year, Shettar condemned the Karnataka government's move to recommend granting of minority religion status to the Lingayats and claimed Siddaramaiah did so to gain political mileage.B Sreeramulu
The Ballari MP, known to be a close associate of the Reddy mining brothers, will contest the polls from Molakalmuru (reserved for Scheduled Tribe) constituency in Chitradurga district, marking a departure from his Ballari rural seat he has represented in the past.
According to Myneta.info, Sreeramulu has eight criminal cases pending against him including charges of bribery, attempt to murder and criminal intimidation. Like Yeddyurappa, he floated his own party BSR Congress before the 2013 Assembly polls but merged with the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was among 17 BJP Lok Sabha members elected from Karnataka that year.
Known as a strong leader of the Valmiki Nayak community, Sreeramulu is a key participant in most of the core committee and strategy meetings of the party. He is also a prominent face seen at Modi's rallies and is trusted by Yeddyurappa to win over the Scheduled Tribes vote bank in the state, according to this News18.
Even after Shah declared the party has nothing to do with mining baron Janardhan Reddy, Sreeramulu said, "“I can only say that Mr. Reddy is a staunch supporter of the BJP and is with the party." The north Karnataka district of Ballari is known for its thousands-of-crores-worth illegal mining scam between 2007 and 2012, which forced Yeddyurappa to resign as chief minister in 2011.R Ashoka
The BJP leader and former deputy chief minister of Karnataka will be contesting from the Padmanabhanagar Assembly constituency in Bengaluru (South). He currently represents the constituency, which comprises eight Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) wards, in the Vidhan Soudha. Being a Vokkaliga, it plays out in Ashoka's favour as the Padmanabhanagar constituency has a sizeable population of Vokkaliga voters. The MLA is an RSS worker and has held the transport and health portfolios in the Karnataka state government in the past.The full first list