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BJP's Karnataka Strike: Why It Dropped Nine Lok Sabha MPs
Mar 14, 2024 12:13 pm

The BJP central leadership has undertaken a ‘surgical strike’ in Karnataka by replacing nine Lok Sabha MPs and fielding eight new candidates in the 2019 elections. Mysore royal family member Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, eminent cardiologist and son-in-law of Deve Gowda Dr. CN Manjunath, and former BJP chief minister Basavaraj Bommai are among the new BJP candidates.The BJP has trying to bring in new Lok Sabha candidates for the southern state in the second list to challenge the Congress and maintain caste balance. The BJP has kept some warhorses and taken a ‘calculated risk’ with others. They gave tickets to people who could have undermined the BJP if denied. Some seats had no alternative, claimed a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.Anna Saheb Shankar Jolle (Chikkodi), PC Gaddigoudar (Bagalkote), Ramesh Jigajinagi (Bijapur-SC), Umesh Jadhav (Gulbarga-SC), Bhagwant Khuba (Bidar), Prahlad Joshi (Dharwad), BY Raghavendra (Shivamogga), PC Mohan (Bangalore Central), and Tejasvi Surya (Bangalore South) were renomin B Sriramulu, a close friend of mining baron and MLA Janardhan Reddy, will run in Bellary. Sriramulu lost the Karnataka Assembly elections and represented Bellary in Lok Sabha. Basavaraj Bommai, who led the BJP to 66 out of 224 seats in the 2023 Assembly elections, will represent Haveri, while V Somanna, who challenged Siddaramaiah in Varuna, will represent Tumkur.Lok Sabha debutants Basavaraj Kyavatoor (Koppal) and S Balaraj (Chamrajanagar). Gayatri Siddeshwar will succeed her husband, former MoS GM Siddeshwar, in Davangere. BJP spokesperson S Prakash dubbed the Karnataka list “balanced one”. “Winnability matters. BJP will win over 20 seats and sweep the election. The party dropped Mysuru's controversial MP Prathap Simha. Last December, Simha's signature on a visitor's pass allowed protestors into Parliament, causing a significant security breach. He was superseded by Mysuru royal heir Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar.Simha was unhappy and secretly stated, “proud the Mysore royal family wishes to live like ordinary people rather than stay indoors with air conditioning as kings”. The second big change was the Dakshin Kannada seat, when Karnataka Legislative Council Leader of Opposition Kota Srinivas Poojary replaced MP Nalin Kumar Kateel. Kateel has held the seat three times, and Poojary was a Karnataka BJP state minister for multiple terms. Kateel faces anti-incumbency in Mangaluru after the violent murder of BJP Yuva Morcha leader Praveen Nettaru. Local BJP workers are furious with his case handling.A top BJP functionary from Dakshin Kananda remarked, “The Billava community, who form a large part of the region's constituents are angry with Kateel and that was also communicated to the central leadership.” Shobha Karandlaje, who previously represented the coastal Udupi-Chikkamgalur region, has replaced four-time MP and former Union minister Sadananda Gowda in the Bengaluru North Lok Sabha seat. Gowda, Karnataka's chief minister in November, retired from politics. Apparently, he was furious with the BJP for not consulting him on the candidate list. A party insider claimed a viral video doomed the leader in 2021. Gowda allegedly speaks to an unidentified woman in the footage. Later, the leader complained to cybercrime police that a “fake, lewd video” was circulated to harm his reputation. Other incumbent MPs dropped include GS Basavaraju (Tumkur), Karadi Sanganna Amarappa (Koppal), Y Devendrappa (Bellary), Shivakumar Udasi (Haveri), and V Srinivas Prasad. Dr. CN Manjunath, a prominent cardiologist who recently joined the BJP, will challenge three-time MP DK Suresh, brother of Karnataka's Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, in Bengaluru Rural. This constituency is a Shivakumar brothers pocket borough and Vokkaliga stronghold. The BJP plans to challenge them in the Vokkaligas, the community the Deve Gowda family represents, by fielding Dr. Manjunath. Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Farmers' Welfare, and Food Processing Industries Shobha Karandlaje will represent Bengaluru North in Lok Sabha instead of Udupi Chikkamgaluru. Chikkamagalur BJP workers have launched a ‘Go Back Shobha’ campaign to deny her a ticket from the seat. Local protest activists alleged that despite representing the seat for two terms, she had no acquaintances among party block committee leaders. Captain Brijesh Chowta, who replaced Dakshin Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, is another surprise entrant. Military veteran and Karnataka BJP state secretary Chowta considers himself a ‘cultural political activist’ and entrepreneur. The 7th Gorkha battalion and the Manipur and Assam counter-insurgency were his assignments. Chowta was a strong seat candidate.Political analyst SA Hemanth says the BJP central leadership chose candidates in the second list based on the old adage that prudence is better than valor. “It wanted drastic change. The BJP has maintained numerous MPs to avoid internal squabbles that could undermine its prospects of winning. This also shows that the central leadership was eager to strike but frightened to wound, he said.