K.V. Subramanya

Many of the prospective candidates in Doddaballapur have defected to the BJP

R. Jalappa is all set to remain neutral during

the coming byelections

CHICKBALLAPUR: Although the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) are gearing up for the coming byelection to the Doddaballapur Assembly constituency in Bangalore Rural district, the parties are struggling to find suitable candidates to take on the Bharatiya Janta Party’s J. Narasimha Swamy, whose resignation has necessitated the byelection.

The defection of prominent local leaders of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) to the BJP, who were seen as potential candidates, has created problems for the two parties. The former Minister C. Chennigappa, who unsuccessfully contested the last Assembly election from the Doddaballapur constitunecy as a Janata Dal (Secular) candidate, has joined the BJP. Similarly, the former Doddaballapur MLA Gantiganahalli Krishnappa, who too was with the Janata Dal (Secular), has defected to the BJP recently. Thus, the JD (S) has no formidable candidate who can give a fight to Mr. Swamy.

On the other, with Mr. Swamy, who had won the recent elections on Congress ticket, joining the BJP, the Congress has suffered a severe jolt in the constituency. Mr. Swamy is the son of veteran Congress leader and Chickballapur MP R.L. Jalappa. Along with Mr. Swamy, majority of the zilla panchayat and taluk panchyat memebers have also defected to the BJP.

With Mr. Jalappa, who has announced that he would retire from politics, all set to remain neutral during the coming byelections, the Congress camp is divided. The former MLA R.G. Venkatachalaiah, a trusted lieutenant of Mr. Jalappa till recently, is likely to be the Congress candidate. Mr. Venkatachalaiah, who belongs to the Brahmin community and hails from Anabe hobli of Doddaballapur taluk, is credited with “managing” all the elections contested by Mr. Jalappa and Mr. Swamy. Whether Mr. Venkatachalaiah commands the support of the Congress workers in the changed political scenario is a million dollar question.

In the past three months, the former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy visited Doddaballapur twice and held meetings of the party workers to prepare them for the elections.

The Congress also held a massive rally in Doddaballapur recently, where R.V. Deshpande and D.K. Shivakumar took over as the President and Working President respectively of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. Mr. Shivakumar announced that the Congress had organised the rally in Doddaballapur particularly in view of the coming byelection. The BJP, which is in an upbeat mood, has also not lagged behind. Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa visited Doddaballapur in September and launched development works in the taluk.