Bengaluru: With five days to go before the last date for filing nominations on Tuesday, the Congress has finally released the names of its candidates for three out of the seven pending seats. But in clearing N.A. Haris for the prestigious Shantinagar seat, while putting Badami on hold, it has kept alive the controversy that is unlikely to die down.
While it is an open secret that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is bent on standing from two seats - Chamundeshwari and Badami in North Karnataka - he is being discouraged from doing so by diehard Congressmen, whom the CM believes do not have his best interests at heart.
Adding fuel to the fire of a rift between Mr Siddaramaiah and the party bosses are reports of a late night closed door meeting on April 18 that the chief minister reportedly held with the AICC General Secretary K.C. Venugopal, KPCC chief Dr G. Parameshwar and Congress Campaign Committee Chairman D.K. Shivakumar in Mysuru. Sources close to the developments have told this newspaper that the CM reportedly made it clear to Mr. Venugopal that he would contest the Assembly elections from Badami as his second constituency.
According to these highly placed sources, who didn’t wish to be named, the VIP trio took off in a chartered flight from the HAL Airport around 7.30 pm to Mysuru and returned to Bengaluru midnight after a marathon meeting with the CM, who allegedly insisted that if he was not given Badami as his second constituency, where his victory could be managed by party workers, he would not be able to tour the State and take part in the election campaign as he would have to focus on winning Varuna and Chamundeshwari, which required his presence for a win. The party heavily depends on Siddaramaiah as their star campaigner.
In fact, in the May 12 elections he is pitted against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a ‘do-or-die’ battle for Karnataka. Last week during the party’s Central Election Committee meeting Siddaramaiah had asked the Congress high command to allow him to contest from two constituencies - Chamundeshwari and Badami but his request was reportedly countered by the two senior party leaders – Mallikarjun Kharge and Veerappa Moily, who said that this would set a wrong precedent in the history of Congress, where no candidate was given tickets for two constituencies, as it sends out the wrong message.
On Wednesday night Siddaramaiah reportedly reiterated his demand before Venugopal and the other two leaders. “Congress is divided on the issue but they cannot afford to antagonize Siddaramaiah and this is why they have not yet given Form B to their candidate for Badami – Dr Devraj Patil,” the source added.
Siddaramaiah has been warned, repeatedly, by Intelligence agencies that he may lose Chamundeshwari to the incumbent JD(S) MLA G.T. Devegowda.