After days of suspense, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday finally gave the party ticket to Munirathna for the R R Nagar assembly by-poll in Karnataka and to another party newbie Rajesh Gowda for the Sira assembly seat.
Munirathna, a film producer turned politician had defected from the Congress and helped topple the Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka helping BJP to come to power. The saffron party decided to give the ticket to Munirathna after the Supreme Court dismissed a 2018 petition, on Tuesday afternoon, by the then defeated BJP candidate Tulasi Muniraju Gowda.
The BJP candidate had accused Munirathna of electoral irregularities and sought that his election be squashed. There was also resentment within the local BJP- RSS workers on giving a ticket to the Congress defector. But with the Supreme Court clearing his earlier victory, the path was cleared for Munirathna.
In Sira, the other assembly seat which is facing by-polls due to the death of incumbent JDS MLA B Satyanarayana – due to Covid-19, BJP has given the ticket to Rajesh Gowda who joined the party only 10 days ago. Rajesh Gowda’s father is a Congress stalwart C P Mudalagiryappa who has thrice been elected to Lok Sabha.
While Congress has nominated former minister T B Jayachandra as its candidate from Sira, it has given the RR Nagar ticket to H Kusuma the daughter of former JDS leader Hanumantharayappa. JDS meanwhile has fielded Ammajamma the widow of Satyanarayana as its candidate in Sira and is yet to announce its nominee for RR Nagar.
The last day of nominations is on October 16 and voting will be held on November 3 with results being declared on November 10. Though the outcome of the by-polls is unlikely to affect the ruling party – as BJP with 117 members in the 225 member assembly enjoys a clear majority – all the three parties are taking this as a prestige battle.
For the ruling BJP which has never won either seat it would be an opportunity to expand its base, for the Congress under new KPCC chief D K Shivakumar it is an opportunity to prove a point that it can win again in the state. JDS is fighting to retain relevance in state politics as a key third player.