Uncertainty looms over the constituency from which senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah will be contesting the upcoming Karnataka Assembly polls, with the party still undecided on his seat, amid reports that the leadership has advised him against contesting from Kolar.
The Leader of Opposition in Karnataka in January announced that he will contest from Kolar, subject to approval from the Congress high command.
Now amid reports that Congress leadership including Rahul Gandhi, during the party’s Central Election Committee meeting held on Friday, had advised Siddaramaiah not to contest from there, speculations are rife about the former Chief Minister reconsidering about his plans to enter the poll fray from Kolar.
It is also being said that the Congress Legislature Party leader was thinking about going back to Varuna, the seat in Mysuru, from which he had contested and won in the past.
The senior leader is said to have huddled with party leaders close to him at his residence here on Saturday, after arriving from New Delhi.
Reacting to the speculations about his constituency, Siddaramaiah today said, he will abide by party decision, and will enter the poll fray from wherever he is asked to.
In response to a question on reports claiming about leadership asking him to contest from elsewhere citing ”survey reports”, Siddarmaiah told reporters, ”It is only speculation, it is not confirmed. Information are always not true. I have made categorically clear…I had written in my application (for ticket) that high command will decide on as to from where should I contest, so where is the question of it.” Asked what if the high command asks him to contest from two seats like done in 2018, he said, ”Let’s see what they say…why do the guessing….as far as I know, they will not ask me to contest from two seats. I will go by the decision of the high command. Wherever high command directs, I will contest from that constituency.” To a question whether his name and constituency will be declared in the first list, he said, ”how can it be, without high command deciding on it.” The Congress’ Central Election Committee, headed by party’s national president Mallikarjun Kharge met on Friday in New Delhi, during which according to reports they have approved the first list of 125 candidates, which include 61 sitting Congress MLAs, and also the seats for which only one name was suggested.
BJP and JD(S) took a dig at lack of clarity on the constituency from where Siddaramaiah, one of the probable Chief Ministerial face of the Congress, will be contesting the polls, which is likely by May.
Veteran BJP leader B S Yediyurappa, who had earlier predicted that Siddaramaiah, aware of losing, will not contest from Kolar and may go back to home district of Mysuru, today, while recalling his earlier statement said, ”I had said that he will contest from Varuna, most probably what I had said might come true, you will see it when their list is announced. I don’t know why he created unnecessary confusion.” Another senior BJP leader K S Eshwarappa, who too had made similar prediction said, he knew Siddaramaiah won’t contest from Kolar as, Dalits who constitute about 62,000 of voters in the constituency are ”waiting” to defeat the former CM, for his alleged role in defeating Dalit leaders from Congress like- G Parmeshwara, and K H Muniyappa in the previous elections and sidelining Srinivas Prasad, who is now with BJP.
”Also there are 40,000 Vokkaligas votes, they too are waiting to defeat Siddaramaiah for his alleged betrayal to community leaders like H D Deve Gowda. His own Kuruba community is also there in Kolar, but a section of District level organisation of Kurubas have announced support to Vartur Prakash (probable BJP candidate). Only left now are Muslims. Siddaramaiah himself knew he will be defeated in Kolar,” he added.
Minister R Ashoka, claiming that none of the 224 constituencies are safe for Siddaramaiah and ”it is better for him to contest from other country or state”, said, ”its good if he goes to Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh….His own party leaders are villian for him, D K Shivakuimar (KPCC President and CM aspirant) will work for defeating him.” Daring Siddaramaiah to contest against him, BJP’s probable candidate from Kolar Varthur Praksah said, the Congress did not have a ‘vote’ (support) in the constituency, and that’s the reason he might be withdrawing.
”There seems to be an internal conspiracy in Congress to defeat Siddaramaiah in Kolar,” he said.
JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy on his part said, there are talks among the people about lack of confidence and strength in Siddaramaiah, and such a situation should not have come for a former Chief Minister.
The Congress legislature party leader who is nursing Chief Ministerial ambitions in the event party coming to power, and was looking for a ”safe seat”, had announced in January that he will be contesting the polls from the Kolar, ending all speculations, reportedly after conducting surveys.
Sitting Kolar MLA Srinivas Gowda, who decided to vacate the seat in favour of CLP leader, said, if Siddaramaiah contests he will work in his favour, if not would retire from politics.
Expressing displeasure about the developments, he said, Siddarmaiah could have won with a good margin. ”Let him call, I will speak…” Siddaramaiah’s son and Varuna MLA Yathindra Siddaramaiah stating that his father can win from any constituency he contests, said he was not aware of the high command’s advice.
When questioned whether there is a suggestion from high command for Siddaramaiah not to contest from Kolar, KPCC president Shivakumar merely said, ”you have to ask Siddaramaiah about it.” With Shivakumar too having Chief Ministerial aspirations, it has triggered a game of one-upmanship between the two leaders.
Siddaramaiah, who currently represents Badami segment of Bagalkote district in northern parts of the State, has repeatedly indicated that he may not contest from there, citing his inability to give more time for people and party workers of the constituency as the reason.
Kolar was considered a safe bet for Siddaramaiah as it will consolidate ”AHINDA” votes in his favour and Vokkaliga leaders of the party from the region also have pledged support to him.
AHINDA is a Kannada acronym that stands for ‘Alpasankhyataru’ (minorities), ‘Hindulidavaru’ (Backward Classes) and ‘Dalitaru’ (Dalits).
Siddaramaiah, who has announced that 2023 assembly polls will be his last, has made it clear that he would not contest from his former constituency Chamundeshwari in Mysuru. As the then sitting Chief Minister, he lost the 2018 polls in Chamundeshwari to JD(S) G T Deve Gowda by 36,042 votes.
He, however, won Badami, the other constituency from where he had contested the 2018 polls, and defeated B Sriramulu (BJP) by 1,696 votes.
Making his debut in the Assembly in 1983, Siddaramaiah had got elected from Chamundeshwari on a Lok Dal Party ticket. He has won five times from this constituency and tasted defeat thrice.
After neighbouring Varuna became a constituency in 2008 following delimitation, Siddaramaiah represented it till he vacated the seat for his son Dr Yatindra (MLA) in the 2018 assembly polls and went back to his old constituency of Chamundeshwari. PTI