Picking Council candidates to be an uphill task for BJP
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Picking Council candidates to be an uphill task for BJP

November 12, 2021
  • Hectic lobbying on; R. Raghu Kautilya, Sandesh Nagaraj, C. Basavegowda in the race
  • BSY loyalist Raghu Kautilya has better prospects, say Political Observers

Mysore/Mysuru: Of late there has been a continuous knock at the BJP’s doors from candidates who are lobbying for tickets to contest the biennial election to the Karnataka Legislative Council from 20 Local Authorities’ Constituencies for 25 seats that will be held on Dec. 10.

The election has been necessitated as the term of office of the 25 MLCs will end on Jan. 5, 2022. While the poll notification will be issued on Nov. 16, the last date for filing nomination papers is Nov. 23, and scrutiny will take place on the next day. The last date for withdrawal of candidature is Nov. 26, and the counting of votes will take place on Dec. 14.

The BJP is ruling in Karnataka and as such, there is a great demand to contest from the saffron party. Also, the party is making all efforts to woo the electorate through campaigns like ‘Jana Swaraj’ conclaves from Nov. 19 involving Gram Panchayat members, Legislative Assembly and Council members and MPs who form the electorate. The party hopes to win the maximum number of seats through this campaign.

Interestingly, even in Mysuru region where the BJP is considered a bit weak when compared to the Congress and the JD(S), there are many aspirants and it will be an uphill task for the High Command to pick the candidates.

Three in the race

Among the aspirants vying for BJP tickets are two-term JD(S) MLC Sandesh Nagaraj who is knocking on the party’s doors after shifting loyalties. Formidable in the race is R. Raghu Kautilya, the Chairman of D. Devaraj Urs Backward Classes Development Corporation. Also in the race is former MUDA Chairman C. Basavegowda who has the backing of his mentor and senior BJP leader and Chamarajanagar MP V. Sreenivasa Prasad.

The Mysuru-Chamarajanagar region has two seats from the Local Authorities’ Constituencies and the BJP High Command is looking to increase its presence at the grassroots level by winning both the seats. 

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A lot depends on the High Command move as in the past, it has adhered to social engineering by fielding candidates from most backward communities. It nominated Shantharam Siddi from Siddi community to the Council and Ashok Gasti to the Rajya Sabha. Gasti eventually passed away.

BSY loyalist

Raghu Kautilya is a staunch supporter of former Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa (BSY) and is an educationist. He was fielded on a BJP ticket in the previous MLC election but was defeated though he put up a formidable fight.

According to sources familiar with the caste matrix, if Raghu is fielded this time too, considering the fact that more than 60 percent of the electorate hail from the backward communities, he has better prospects. Also, he has already done his ground work by reaching out to his electorate in Mysuru and Chamarajanagar and this might make him a better candidate, said political observers.

While Raghu says that BJP has better chances of winning as it is the ruling party, political analysts feel that if at all the BJP consolidates the votes of most backward and marginalised communities, it will enable the party in future to build a strong base in the region that is the home turf of former Chief Minister Siddharamaiah, an AHINDA leader. AHINDA is an acronym for the Kannada words Alpasankhyataru (Minorities), Hindulidavaru (Backward Classes) and Dalitaru (Dalits). 

A two-term veteran

Along with Raghu, JD(S) MLC Sandesh Nagaraj, a Vokkaliga leader and a two-term Council member, is a strong contender for the BJP ticket. He has already announced his intention to exit JD(S) and join the saffron party.

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He told reporters last month in Mysuru that he was “not in touch” with JD(S) for the past one-and-a-half years. “Until Jan. 5, 2022, I am a JD(S) legislator. After that I want to join the BJP. It all depends on Basavaraj Bommai and Yediyurappa,” Nagaraj had said.

His younger brother Sandesh Swamy had contested the Assembly election on a BJP ticket from Narasimharaja Constituency in 2018 and Swamy’s son Sathwik Swamy is a BJP Corporator in the Mysuru City Corporation. Sandesh Nagaraj, also a film producer, is hoping that Revenue Minister and fellow Vokkaliga leader R. Ashoka will help him get the party ticket.

Help from mentor

Also in the race is former MUDA Chairman C. Basavegowda. He is a close confidante of former Union Minister and current Chamarajanagar MP V. Sreenivasa Prasad. He was in the JD(S) before joining the BJP along with Prasad. He is banking on Prasad’s good offices to secure a ticket. 

Currently, in the 75-member House, BJP is the largest party with 32 seats, Congress has 29, and JD(S) has 12 members. In the current seat matrix, none of the parties have a majority. Besides the Chairman, there is  one Independent.

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