Bengaluru: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday gave Muslim leaders a patient hearing when they sought the ticket for a candidate belonging to their community for Hebbal Assembly constituency, but stumped them with a couple of questions: who represented the segment earlier? And why the ruling party should not field Byrathi Suresh?
A senior leader who was part of the delegation, retorted that Siddaramaiah’s brand of politics always revolved around ‘politics of tokenism’. “Siddaramaiah, all of a sudden, decided to organise ‘Tipu Jayanti’ two month ago in order to drive home the point that he was for Muslims. Now, he is doing exactly the opposite. When we met him, he just retorted stating what is wrong in my choice (Byrathi Suresh) as he wanted Hebbal won at any cost,” the leader added,
What irked the delegation most was that Siddaramaiah reminded the leaders that Hebbal was represented by Kuruba leader, H.M. Revanna, in 2008, but he had to make way for former Union minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief’s grandson, Rehman Sharief in 2013. Though the leaders tried to convince the Chief Minister that minorities constituted the highest number of voters in the constituency, Siddaramaiah stuck to winnability formula, the leader added.
Of 45 leaders, only three back Sharief grandson
Congress veteran C. K. Jaffer Sharief's grandson, Rehman Sharief, could not even secure the support of more two or three leaders, but the controversial new entrant into Hebbal constituency, Byrathi Suresh, was endorsed by almost every leader who showed up during one-on-one meeting with a panel headed by Bengaluru district in-charge minister K. J. George on Wednesday.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior leader who attended this meeting disclosed that the panel had invited all 45 leaders - Hebbal constituencies block presidents, various committee members, former corporators, leaders of ward committees and even those leaders who reside in this constituency. “Interestingly, even Muslim leaders who are in various committees of this constituency did not mention the name of Mr Sharief except for two or three leaders. Even they were not speaking in an emphatic manner, whereas almost every leader who gave his or her opinion was in favour of Suresh," the leader explained.
Besides, several leaders also backed former minister H.M. Revanna's candidature but his name was mentioned as the second choice and not the first choice. “It was really interesting to watch how leaders were giving their own reasons, and why they backed Suresh. One leader who backed Suresh observed that he was impressed by the manner in which Suresh addressed everyone politely. Whenever we call, he picks up phone, where as neither Revanna nor Rehman has this trait. Going a step further, the leader observed that Mr Rehman was still naive about politicking, and must be matured to be a MLA,” the leader added while explaining how leaders justified their support for Suresh.
The leader contended that Revanna was able to secure the support of decent number of party leaders of his constituency, but he was always referred to as the second choice in case the party decides not to field Byrathi Suresh.
Candidates after we get screening panel reports: Dr G Parameshwar
KPCC president Dr G. Parameshwar on Wednesday asserted that the party would announce its candidates for bypolls to three Assembly constituencies only after screening committees set up for each seat submit their report.
He told the media here: “There is no problem with our selection process. Naturally, Congress being the ruling party, there is long list of aspirants. It is also usual where there is more number of aspirants, different opinions appear in the media, which cannot be misconstrued as the party witnessing large scale rebellion.”
According to him, one screening committee headed by Kannada and Culture minister, Umashree, has submitted its report, but he was yet to receive reports from ones dealing with selection of candidates for Devadurga and Hebbal constituencies.
Responding to a question, Dr Parameshwar said "AICC general secretary, Digvijay Singh, will be coming to the city, where all aspects of poll strategies will be discussed and candidates for three constituencies too are likely to be finalised."
Hebbal: Will it be Katta from BJP?
In a move which could prove crucial to the BJP’s prospects in Hebbal Assembly constituency, former minister Katta Subramanya Naidu has reportedly agreed to work for the party candidate chosen for the bypoll. Hebbal is considered a bastion of Katta with the previous MLA, Jagadish Kumar, a loyalist of the BJP leader.
Mr Naidu gave in after Dasarahalli BJP MLA, S. Muniraju and BJP city unit president Subba Narasimha went to his residence on Wednesday and requested him to work for the party candidate who is likely to be finalised on Thursday. Speaking to this newspaper, Mr Muniraju said, “Katta categorically told us that he will not demand the ticket for himself or his family members”.
There were reports that Katta had demanded the ticket for himself or his daughter-in-law but the BJP leader denied this. He also ruled out joining JD(S). “I will stay with BJP and work for the victory of the party candidate in Hebbal”, he said. Mr Muniraju has requested him to take charge of the campaign in Hebbal as he had done in 2013 to ensure the victory of Jagadish Kumar, who passed away a few months ago.
Muniraju and his team also met Lalitha, wife of Jagadish Kumar, whose name is doing the rounds for Hebbal.
Source said that though Mr Naidu has stated that he is not interested in contesting, he is the best bet the BJP has against MLC Byrathi Suresh, the wealthy Congress probable. A section of BJP leaders however do not want Katta to be fielded because of the land scam charges made against him.
Meanwhile, BJP MLC Narayanaswamy has thrown his hat in the ring but sources said he is no match for Katta. The BJP has called a Core committee meeting on Thursday to finalize candidates for the three Assembly constituencies going to polls on February 13.