Mandya, Belgaum & Udupi-Chikmagalur seen as “safe” seats

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee functionaries seem to be pushing for party vice-president Rahul Gandhi contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the State. They used his two-day visit to Karnataka at the weekend to consider this proposition.

Some leaders say Mandya, Belgaum and Udupi-Chikmagalur have been identified as “safe” constituencies, in case he and the high command are willing to consider it.

However, none of the functionaries is willing to come out with a confirmation or denial. All that they say is they will be “happy” if Mr. Gandhi agrees to contest from a seat in Karnataka, besides Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, which he now represents.

Sources say the party’s strength in some of these constituencies is being analysed. Some senior leaders are said to have informed the high command of its strengths and weaknesses there. But Mr. Gandhi has not spoken out on the matter.

Party president Sonia Gandhi contested the Lok Sabha elections from Bellary in 1999. Though she won by a big margin, she resigned the seat so as to retain Amethi. K. Basavanagoud won Bellary in a by-election.

Indira Gandhi, too, had contested in a by-election from Chikmagalur in 1978 after she lost Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh in 1977 (after Emergency).

Now it is said some leaders have informed the high command that Mandya will be a “safe seat,” especially with the party in power in the State.

The central election committee, led by Ms. Gandhi, is expected to meet in New Delhi on Monday to consider the list of candidates.

On Sunday, Mr. Gandhi took part in a roadshow that took him to parts of the Tumkur, Bangalore Rural, Mandya, Mysore and Chamarajanagar constituencies. Mandya has been described as a safe constituency for the Congress because the party has done well there, except in 2009 when N. Cheluvarayaswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) won the seat. In a recent by-election, film actor and political novice Ramya won by a big margin. She accompanied Mr. Rahul Gandhi on the roadshow and attended some of the meetings held in the other constituencies.

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