A lot of state leaders in Karnataka have been lobbying for that perfect constituency to contest from in the upcoming Legislative Assembly election. For example, Congress’ Siddaramaiah, who of course, finally zeroed in on Kolar a few days ago.
However, there are quite a few MPs, who seem to be hankering for party tickets in the state election. According to sources, the BJP’s Shivakumar Udasi, Ramesh Jigajinagi, and Karadi Sanganna are some of the sitting MPs, who have expressed their desire to contest the Assembly election.
“Being an MP is quite challenging. It is a huge canvas to cover, but you end up having more say only in state politics,” a highly-placed BJP source explained, while speaking to The Quint.
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Language barrier should also be factored in, stressed political analyst Ravindra Reshme.
“If you are an MP, knowing English or Hindi, helps one gain some voice. Look at an MP like Jaggesh (Shivalingappa), whose speech in Kannada gained no recognition. An MP like Sumalatha (Ambareesh) is known because she is articulate in English. Karnataka has never been a breeding ground for politicians with national ambitions and most MPs lack confidence when on the national platform."Ravindra Reshme, Political Analyst
With the absence of a strong face like BS Yediyurappa, and disgruntled leaders like KS Eshwarappa and Ramesh Jarkiholi, BJP has a challenging path ahead to retain power. The lotus party is desperate to find the ‘winnability’ factor in every candidate, who is set to contest - be it even a sitting or a former MP, say sources.
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Shivakumar C Udasi is an MP from Haveri. He is eyeing the Hangal assembly seat, which was represented by his late father CM Udasi. The Congress parked itself at Hangal during the by-election in November, 2021. Shivakumar’s supporters, according to reports, believe he could usurp the seat from the Congress.
Shivakumar, however, denied lobbying for the ticket. “I know I can wrest the seat from the Congress. But, eyeing the assembly seat doesn’t make sense to me,” he claimed.
Ramesh Jigajinagi, MP who represents Vijayapura, is looking to contest from Nagthan. “While I’m happy with whatever decision that the party is to take, I agree that I have the winning streak. I’m not after power, but I do believe in doing more for the locals,” mentioned Jigajinagi.
This trend is not restricted to the BJP alone. Congress MP KH Muniyappa too has approached the party leadership seeking an Assembly ticket to contest from Devanahalli. “It’s not like the Congress hasn’t given a ticket to an MP before to contest a state election. Former MP Prakash Hukkeri was fielded in the state legislative council election last year,” said a Congress source.
Reshme is of the opinion that Muniyappa has won the Lok Sabha constituency as the MP several times, but the Dalit leader could perhaps be eyeing the CM’s post.
The Scramble for Seats
The BJP, however, is cautious. “We are wary of the by-election that will ensue if these sitting MPs are given Assembly tickets. The by-election will have a definite bearing on the Lok Sabha election in 2024,” a BJP MLA, on the condition of anonymity, told The Quint.
A Congress source agreed with this stressing on the fact that the party wouldn’t want to upset the applecart at a time when the Opposition has found a new leader in Mallikarjun Kharge and when the party is banking on Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
However, Congress spokesperson Kengal Renu has a different take. “The chances of the Congress winning in Karnataka are pretty high and thus MPs in our party may be hoping to bag ministerial berths by contesting and winning the Assembly election here, rather than pinning their hopes on the 2024 Lok Sabha election,” he remarked, while speaking to The Quint. He also took a dig at the BJP to say, “The saffron party at the national level follows the ‘high command’ culture and MPs have no roles to play.”
Dismissing Renu’s remarks, General Secretary of Karnataka BJP Mahesh Tenginkai insisted that his party allows all elected representatives to have a say in all matters concerning the state as well as the country. “These reasons are baseless and are wrong. Keeping the winnability factor of the candidates in the upcoming Assembly election and the interest of 2024 Lok Sabha election, BJP’s high command will take an informed decision,” Tenginkai told The Quint.
Until then, the scramble for seats and power will continue among politicians sitting in the assembly as well as the parliament.
(Pratiba Raman is a senior journalist based in Bengaluru)