Three of these leaders are sure to contest, the remaining will be campaigners
The coming Assembly elections will see seven former Chief Ministers, besides the incumbent, Jagadish Shettar, sweating it out either as contestants or as campaigners.
While three of them are sure to contest the elections slated for May 5, even as the formal release of the list of contestants of all parties barring the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) is awaited, the remaining will be prominent campaigners for their parties.
Barring J.H. Patel who is no more, all Chief Ministers who were in power since 1992 will be busy in the run-up to the elections. They are: M. Veerappa Moily, H.D. Deve Gowda, S.M. Krishna, N. Dharam Singh, H.D. Kumaraswamy, B.S. Yeddyurappa, D.V. Sadananda Gowda and Mr. Shettar.
The eldest among them is Mr. Krishna. Mr. Krishna, who will turn 81 this May, was busy in Delhi lobbying for ticket for his supporters with the Congress high command. The former Union Minister and Maharashtra Governor has confirmed that he will not be contesting the election. He had kept himself aloof until he was summoned by AICC president Sonia Gandhi.
The youngest of the lot is 1959-born Mr. Kumaraswamy, State president of the Janata Dal (Secular), who is likely to contest from Ramanagaram. An interesting part of the campaign would be the father-son duo of Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Gowda travelling extensively as there are hardly any other high-profile campaigners in the party.
Considering that this is a crucial election for the party, which did not do well in the urban local body (ULB) polls, the ageing Mr. Gowda is likely to walk an extra mile.
Yet another father-son combination is likely to emerge, with Ajay Singh, son of Congress leader Mr. Dharam Singh, pitched to get a ticket. Interestingly, Union Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge’s son, Priyank Kharge, is also set to contest and the father is likely to throw in his hat for the Chief Minister’s post in the event of the Congress coming to power.
The stakes are even higher for Mr. Yeddyurappa, who broke away from the Bharatiya Janata Party and joined the KJP. With his party not doing as well as he had hoped in the ULB elections, Mr. Yeddyurappa has a lot to prove in the Assembly polls. He has already declared that he will contest from Shikaripur.
On the other hand, with the BJP doing badly in his hometown of Puttur in Dakshina Kannada, Mr. Sadananda Gowda too has something to prove.
Mr. Shettar may have an easy run in Hubli Rural, given that he has been elected from there four times. But he too faced an embarrassment of sorts as the BJP in the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation fell one seat short of a simple majority in the ULB elections.