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Congress ‘balances’ caste, community equations with RS picks in poll-bound Karnataka

The party has nominated a Dalit, a Muslim and a Vokkaliga, ostensibly keeping an eye on the assembly elections due in May.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2018 12:52 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Congress,BJP,Rajya Sabha elections
The Congress nominated party leaders L Hanumanthaiah, Syed Naseer Hussain and GC Chandrasekhar from Karnataka for the March 23 Rajya Sabha elections. (PTI File Photo )

The ruling Congress nominated state party leaders L Hanumanthaiah, Syed Naseer Hussain and GC Chandrasekhar from Karnataka for the March 23 Rajya Sabha election in a bid to balance caste and community equations ahead of the assembly polls.

Hanumanthaiah, a Dalit leader of the party, was the former chairman of the Kannada Development Authority, a government body tasked with promoting the language.

Chandrashekhar, a close aide of state party chief G Parameshwara, hails from the dominant Vokkaliga caste and Hussain, a doctorate from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, was the party spokesperson.

“The high command’s decision has come as a boost to party workers. It has rewarded committed workers with the Rajya Sabha nominations,” said state Congress president Parameshwara.

“We had requested that local leaders be nominated from the state. As is normal, there were many aspirants but the Central leaders have chosen these three,” he said.

Political observers, however, said the party picked its candidates keeping an eye on the assembly elections, likely to be held in May.

Political analyst and faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies Narendar Pani pointed out the significant aspect of the choices was the attempt to balance the interests of different communities.

“By choosing a Dalit, a Muslim and a Vokkaliga the attempt clearly is to cultivate a support base keeping in mind the ensuing assembly elections,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party named industrialist-politician Rajeev Chandrasekhar as its nominee for the Rajya Sabha from the state.

Chandrasekhar was one of the 18 persons the BJP announced as its candidates on Sunday from across the country. He is a two-time member of Parliament from Karnataka.

Each candidate will require votes of 44 MLAs to get elected to the Upper House of the Parliament .

The Congress has 122 MLAs and has the support of seven rebel Janata Dal (Secular) legislators, who are set to join the party soon.

The BJP has 46 MLAs and the JD(S), which has named BM Farook as its nominee, has the support of 37 MLAs.

Before the BJP announced Chandrasekhar as its nominee, local leaders had hinted that also in contention was Vijay Sankeshwar, the proprietor of the influential local daily Vijaya Vani. He hails from the dominant Lingayat community.

Defending the decision, the party said this was recognition for the hard work Chandrasekhar had put in. Chandrasekhar is a Malayali

“If Sonia Gandhi can become an Indian after marriage, why can’t he be considered a local after having lived in Bengaluru for so long,” said Muralidhar Rao, BJP general secretary in charge of the state.

First Published: Mar 12, 2018 12:52 IST