S. Rajendran and Laiqh A. Khan

Eighteen of the 22 candidates in first list are above the age of 50

Party yet to announce candidates for six seats

Only one woman candidate in first list

Bangalore: The announcement of Congress candidates for 22 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the State has left many aspirants, particularly former legislators and Ministers, dejected. Much to the chagrin of the youth and women, the Congress high command has preferred to field several old warhorses.

Barring Prakash Rathod (Bijapur), S.S. Mallikarjun (Davangere), Tejaswini Gowda (Bangalore Rural) and Saleem Ahmed (Haveri) all other candidates are above 50 years, with at least five of them over 70.

Ms. Tejaswini Gowda is the only woman candidate of the Congress so far and the hopes of the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Youth Congress, Krishna Byre Gowda, to contest from Bangalore North have been belied with the party giving the ticket to the former Railway Minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief.

The party high command has delayed the announcement of candidates for six constituencies — Chickaballapur, Bangalore South, Uttara Kannada, Udupi-Chikmagalur, Mandya and Chamarajanagar.

Party sources told The Hindu that the announcement for Chickaballapur had been delayed as the high command was in a dilemma on whether to give the ticket to the former Malleswaram (Bangalore) MLA, M.R. Seetharam, who enjoys considerable following in the constituency, or to former Chief Minister M. Veerappa Moily, for whom contesting from Chickaballapur will be a new experience given the fact that he has always contested for the Mangalore Lok Sabha seat or the Karkala Assembly seat.

For Bangalore South, the party is keen on fielding a formidable candidate against the BJP MP H.N. Ananth Kumar, although the name of a party loyalist and businessman, T.V. Maruthi has been short-listed.

While the candidatures of Manjunath Kunnur (Dharwad) and H.T. Sangliana (Bangalore Central) who crossed over to the Congress have been announced, that of B. Shivanna, who crossed over to the party from the JD (S), is yet to be cleared. Mr. Shivanna is seeking the ticket from the Chamarajanagar (reserved) seat.

The sources said that never before had the AICC faced such a difficult task in finalising the list of candidates for the State.

While in the initial stages over 5,000 aspirants had sought the party ticket, in the final stages nearly 100 aspirants were short-listed. With around 15 top leaders vying for around five seats, the ball is now in the court of AICC president Sonia Gandhi to take a final call on the candidates for the remaining six constituencies.

Sharief’s reaction

Speaking to The Hindu on Sunday, Mr. Sharief admitted that he had sought the party nomination for Bangalore Central, which had considerable chunk of minority voters.

“Nevertheless, I will contest from Bangalore North, which has been my constituency for more than 30 years now. I will be filing my nomination papers next Friday,” he said.