Party determined to outdo ‘loyal’ BJP Ministers on their turf

The Karnataka Janata Paksha’s (KJP) enthusiasm is in no way dampened by the fact that some Bharatiya Janata Party Ministers, who were expected to cross over to the party, didn’t do so.

“We will field some of our best candidates in Belgaum, Bijapur and Bagalkot districts where the two Ministers of the BJP have a strong sway. Wait till Sunday when the election committee finalises the selection process and announces candidates,” said V. Dhananjay Kumar, campaign committee chairperson of the KJP.

Mr. Kumar told The Hindu that the party was going ahead with poll preparations and was not deterred by the sudden volte-face of some BJP leaders, loyal to KJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa, not joining the party. “We have identified some of the popular leaders in the north Karnataka region to take on the BJP and the Congress, he said. The final list is likely to be released on Sunday in Bangalore, Mr. Kumar added.

The party had presumed that BJP Ministers Umesh V. Katti, Murugesh Nirani and V. Somanna, who had identified with KJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa, would join the party. Although all the three said they owed much to Mr. Yeddyurappa for their political growth, they decided to stay put with the BJP.

While educationist and MLC Prabhakar Kore is said to have played a key role in retaining Mr. Katti and Mr. Nirani in the BJP, the party’s national general secretary Ananth Kumar,MP, and Home Minister R. Ashok reportedly prevailed upon Mr. Somanna to stay.

Belgaum, Bagalkot and Bijapur districts with 33 Assembly seats had returned 22 BJP legislators in the 2008 Assembly polls. While Mr. Katti is a strongman of Belgaum district, Mr. Nirani is influential in Bagalkot and Bijapur districts. Their earlier indifference proved costly for the BJP in the recent elections to the urban local bodies in these three districts.

Mr. Somanna wields considerable influence in some of the constituencies in Bangalore Urban district.

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