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Congress workers in Karnataka vandalise party office over ticket distribution

Karnataka goes to polls on May 12 and results will be out on May 15.

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: Apr 16, 2018 22:56 IST
Vikram Gopal, Bengaluru/Hindustan Times
Karnataka election,Congress,JD(S)
Many Congress leaders and workers have alleged that Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has prioritised JD(S) turncoats in ticket distribution.(AFP/Photo for representation)

Protests against the Congress party’s first list erupted across the state on Monday after 13 members of legislative assembly were denied tickets by the party in its list of 218 candidates announced on Sunday — a clear sign that the party’s strategy of picking candidates on “winnability” might not go down well with everyone.

Supporters of K Shadakshari, the sitting MLA from Tiptur in Tumakuru, called for abandh to protest against the party for not giving him a ticket. Protests were held in Tarikere, too, where sitting MLA GH Srinivasa was denied a ticket. His supporters broke a few chairs in the local party office. The protests were, however, not limited to sitting MLAs who were denied tickets. In Bengaluru, R Manjula Naidu, who unsuccessfully contested from the Rajaji Nagar seat in 2013, lodged her protest against the party’s decision to field former Mayor G Padmavathi from the seat instead.

Shadakshari claimed he has been in Shirdi (in Maharashtra) for the past few days and denied all knowledge of the protests. “It is, of course, disappointing that the party has chosen to sideline me by giving someone else a ticket. I have been with the Congress for 40 years and although I have lost a couple of times, I managed to win over the people through my work.” Shadakshari said he was particularly disappointed that B Nanjamari was given the ticket instead of him. “He is a recent entrant to the party, who has not done anything for the constituency or party,” he said, adding that he would consider his options before deciding on a future course of action.

Responding to the protests, state Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao said the party had to take a tough call, but had only one parameter to pick candidates: winnability. “In many seats there were more than two aspirants and we can only field one, so naturally, those who have lost out will feel angry.” “There were others, too, who did not win the last time who expected to contest on the Congress ticket. We are hoping that after a day or two their anger will subside,” he said.

Rao said the party would reach out to the angry leaders.

The BJP, which has always fielded candidates on the basis of their ability to win is facing some problems too. S Thippeswamy, party MLA from Molkalmuru, wasn’t on the first list. The party decided to field B Sriramulu, close aide of mining baron G Janardhana Reddy from the constituency. Sriramulu had previously always contested from Ballari Rural seat, which like Molkalmuru is reserved for candidates from the tribal community.

A disappointed Thippeswamy is believed to have reached out to the Congress. A close aide of DK Shivakumar, the energy minister said Thippeswamy had met the Congress leader. “Since we (already) announced a candidate for Molkalmuru, Shivakumar said he would see what could be done,” his aide said, asking not to be identified. HT couldn’t immediately reach Thippeswamy for comment or independently verify the aide’s account.

Against this backdrop, Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy has invited dissidents from both the Congress and BJP to contest on the party’s ticket. “Kumaraswamy has called on all those who are disgruntled with the other parties to join the JD(S) and ensure his victory,” a person close to the JD(S) leader said on condition of anonymity.

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 18:53 IST