Special Correspondent

Caste factor and Jalappa’s support tilt the scales in his favour

Chickaballapur has a sizeable population of Balija community

Seetharam’s family is respected in

the region

CHICKABALLAPUR : The Congress leadership, which was in a quandary over selecting a suitable contestant for the Chickaballapur Lok Sabha seat, is said to have finalised the candidature of former MLA M.R. Seetharam.

After veteran Congress leader R.L. Jalappa, four-time MP for Chickaballapur , announced political retirement a few months ago, the party leadership was on the lookout for a formidable replacement.

Serious bickering in Chickaballapur and Kolar district units of the Congress and lack of interest shown by some seasoned leaders to contest the Lok Sabha elections had worried the party’s top brass, Congress sources told The Hindu.

As the search was continuing, some leaders came up with the idea of fielding Mr. Seetharam although he was an outsider to the Chickaballapur constituency.

The reason behind these leaders proposing Mr. Seetharam’s name was that he belongs to the Balija community, which had a sizeable presence in the constituency spread over Chickaballapur , Bangalore Rural and Bangalore Urban districts.

Second, Mr. Seetharam’s family is respected by the Balija community, as his father the late M.S. Ramaiah was responsible for the overall development of Kaivara, the much revered pilgrim centre of the community in Chintamani taluk of Chickaballapur district, the sources said.

On the other hand, Mr. Jalappa played a major role in propping up Mr. Seetharam’s candidature. The octogenarian MP, the sources said, had even assured Mr. Seetharam that he would work for his victory. In view of these developments, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee has finalised Mr. Seetharam’s candidature, the sources said.

Although the Chickaballapur District Congress Committee had recommended the name of Siddlaghatta MLA V. Muniyappa, he reportedly told the party that he was not keen on contesting the election, the sources said.

In fact, Mr. Muniyappa lost to Mr. Jalappa, who was then with the Janata Dal in the 1996 Lok Sabha elections. The other name that was doing the rounds was that of State Youth Congress president and Byatarayanapura MLA Krishna Byre Gowda. However, the party leaders were not prepared to take the risk of fielding him, as the supporters of Mr. Jalappa and Union Minister of State for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways K.H. Muniyappa would definitely work against him, the sources said.

After delimitation, the Chickaballapur Lok Sabha constituency now comprises Chickaballapur , Gauribidanur and Bagepalli Assembly segments of Chickaballapur , all the four Assembly segments of Bangalore Rural district (Doddaballapur, Devanahalli, Hoskote and Nelamangala) and Yelahanka of Bangalore Urban district.