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SHOW OF STRENGTH: The supporters of S.S. Mallikarjun in front of the corporation office in Davangere on Tuesday. They were demanding that their leader should be given the B form.
SHOW OF STRENGTH: The supporters of S.S. Mallikarjun in front of the corporation office in Davangere on Tuesday. They were demanding that their leader should be given the B form.

Staff Correspondent

B form rendered invalid in Davangere North Assembly Constituency

DAVANGERE: Even before the first vote is cast in the 2008 Karnataka Assembly elections, the Congress appears to have lost one seat — Davangere North Assembly Constituency.

The party apparently made a mess of issuing the ‘B’ form to its candidate here on Tuesday.

Syed Saifulla, the party’s official candidate, made changes in the B form under pressure from the supporters of the former Minister S.S. Mallikarjun, rendering it invalid.

According to the rules, only an authorised person in a party can make changes in the B form.

With this, the nomination papers of Mr. Saifulla and Mr. Mallikarjun are certain to be rejected on Wednesday, when scrutiny of nominations takes place. If that happens, the Congress will not have any candidate in the fray.

High drama

The Congress leadership had flown in the B form with Manjunath Bhandari, Balraj and Harinder Mirdha in a private helicopter which landed here around 1.45 p.m.

The three were taken in a car to the City Corporation office by Congress workers (supporters of Mr. Mallikarjun). On reaching the Corporation office, Mr. Bhandari and Mr. Balaraj asked the party workers about Mr. Saifulla, to whom they wanted to hand over the B form.

This led to a ruckus with the supporters of Mr. Mallikarjun demanding that their leader be given the B form.

At one stage, the leather bag containing the B form was almost snatched by a party worker from Mr. Balraj.

Mr. Bhandari was prevented from giving the B form to Mr. Saifulla and later Mr. Saifulla was pressured to drop out of the race. The candidate was taken to a private guest house for a discussion with Mr. Mallikarjun.

After the discussion, Mr. Saifulla and Mr. Mallikarjun drove to the office of the Returning Officer (RO) at the Corporation office and Mr. Saifulla declared that he was withdrawing from the race.

Mr. Bhandari called up Prithviraj Chavan, AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka and apprised him of the developments. Mr. Chavan asked Mr. Bhandari to give the B form to Mr. Saifulla and see to that Mr. Saifulla filed his nomination papers.

In spite of this, Mr. Saifulla entered the name of Mr. Mallikarjun in the B form below his own name. When the Returning Officer told him that the B form could not have two names, Mr. Saifulla scratched his name and handed over the B form to Mr. Mallikarjun.

As per the rule, changes can be made in the B form only by an authorised person (Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president in the present case).

So the B form has become invalid and the Congress appears to have already lost the seat.

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