Karnataka election 2018: Ending speculation over Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah contesting from a second seat in the upcoming Assembly polls, officials at the CM’s office on Saturday said he will file his nomination from Badami on April 24. They said Siddaramaiah will file his papers on Tuesday between 2 and 3 pm. An official tour programme released by the CM’s office had earlier said Siddaramaiah will file his nomination from Badami on April 23 but it was recalled in view of the suspense.
Siddaramaiah has already filed his nomination papers for May 12 polls from Chamudeshwari in Mysuru of south Karnataka. The 69-year-old Congress leader filed nomination on Friday from here. He has contested seven times and won five times since 1983 from Chamundeshwari.
Badami has a strong presence of Kuruba, the community to which Siddaramaiah belongs. The seat is seen as a safe option for Siddaramaiah because the fight in Chamundeshwari will not be an easy one for him. Chamundeshwari is considered a stronghold of the JD(S). The party has vowed to defeat Siddaramaiah and BJP from here. The JD(S) has pitted its incumbent MLA GT Deve Gowda against Siddaramaiah and BJP’s Gopal Rao. Kuruba comprises 8% of the Karnataka’s total population.
According to a PTI report, Siddaramaiah wanted to enter the election fray only from Chamundeshwari but he was ‘under immense pressure’ from local party leaders of Bagalkote and Vijayapura districts to contest from Badami. Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Siddaramaiah said, “I have told the high command that I will contest from Chamundeshwari and not from two constituencies. However, the people of north Karnataka are pressurising the high command that I should contest from north Karnataka too.”
The Badami Assembly constituency falls in the Bagalkot district and comes under the Bagalkot Lok Sabha seat, which is is currently held by Congress’ BB Chimmanakatti. The leaders said if Siddaramaiah contests from Badami, it would boost the party’s prospect in the north Karnataka. If reports are to be believed, Siddaramaiah had met Chimmanakatti earlier this month and persuaded him to vacate the seat for him. In return, the party has assured him a Rajya Sabha berth subject to the outcome of the Assembly elections result.
Siddaramaiah unhappy with Congress’ central leadership?
The PTI report mentioned that Siddaramaiah has been campaigning in Chamundeshwari and Varuna constituencies since Monday, fueling speculation that he was unhappy with the central leadership of the party. His son Yatindra is contesting from Varuna. He returned to Bengaluru on Saturday.
In its list released on April 15, the Congress had named Dr Devraj Patil as its candidate from Badami but his name was put on hold after an infighting. Siddaramaiah’s reported wish to contest from two constituencies was said to have met with stiff opposition from senior party leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge and Veerappa Moily. It was only after this, the party decided to field Patil from here. Incumbent MLA Chimmanakatti too had said that if Siddaramaiah is not contesting from Badami, he should be the candidate.
Soon after the speculation about Siddaramaiah contesting from two seats was put to the rest, he and BJP general secretary P Murlidhar Rao were seen indulging a war of words on Twitter. The CM hit out at Rao by asking to tweet in English or Kannad. Rao had asked Siddaramaiah in Hindi whether he was scared about winning Chamundeshwari seat? He added that “to end your doubt, let me clarify that not only your two seats, but entire Karnataka will be Congress Mukt (Congress free).” To this, Siddaramaiah replied: “Sir, tweet in Kannada or English. Don’t understand Hindi.”