BJP faces its rebels in Council polls in South West Graduates’ and South West Teachers’ constituencies for first time

Expelled senior BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa backs ex- Udupi MLA and rebel K. Raghupathi Bhat’s contest

Updated - May 20, 2024 06:44 pm IST

Published - May 20, 2024 06:41 pm IST - MANGALURU

Expelled senior BJP leader K. S. Eshwarappa inaugurated the Shivamogga office and information centre of former Udupi MLA K. Raghupathi Bhat who is contesting as BJP rebel for the Legislative Council elections from South West Graduates Constituency, in Shivamogga on May 20, 2024.

Expelled senior BJP leader K. S. Eshwarappa inaugurated the Shivamogga office and information centre of former Udupi MLA K. Raghupathi Bhat who is contesting as BJP rebel for the Legislative Council elections from South West Graduates Constituency, in Shivamogga on May 20, 2024. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

With the BJP’s two rebel candidates , K. Raghupathi Bhat and S.R. Harish Acharya, continuing in the fray for the Legislative Council elections from South West Graduates’ and South West Teachers’ constituencies, respectively, the saffron party is facing the elections with its rebels being in the two constituencies for the first time. Monday (May 20) was the last day for withdrawing nominations. The elections will be held on June 3.

Graduates’ Constituency

The South West Graduates’ Constituency has remained a stronghold of the BJP for more than three-and-a-half decades. It was represented by senior BJP leader D.H. Shankaramurthy of Shivamogga for five terms (a term is six years) since 1988. After his first election, he won from the constituency consecutively in 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2012 elections. Later, Ayanur Manjunath won from the constituency on a BJP ticket in 2018. Mr. Manjunath, who resigned as MLC a year ago, quit the BJP and is now contesting from the same constituency as the Congress candidate.

In his three-decade tenure as MLC, Mr. Shankaramurthy rose to become the Minister for Higher Education, Chairman of the Legislative Council and Leader of the Opposition in the Council. He was also the Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Board.

Turning rebel, a three-term MLA of Udupi Mr. Bhat has challenged the BJP to face him in this election. Mr. Bhat is angry that the party has fielded a junior, Dhananjaya Sarji, a doctor who joined the party a year ago. Mr. Bhat has said that the BJP has taken Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts for granted as they have “disciplined workers” who don’t cross the boundary drawn by the party. The former MLA repeatedly went on record saying he would not have been in the fray if the party would have fielded a senior worker from the constituency. Coastal districts have also been sidelined, he said.

K.S. Eshwarappa supports Mr. Bhat

Meanwhile, expelled senior BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa has supported the contest of Mr. Bhat. He inaugurated the office and information centre of Mr. Bhat in Shivamogga on Monday.

Teachers’ Constituency

The South West Teachers’ constituency was the stronghold of the BJP for over two decades — from 1994 to 2018. K. Balakrishna Bhat of the BJP won from the constituency twice in 1994 and in 2000. Later, Captain Ganesh Karnik of the saffron party was elected from the constituency in 2006. Capt. Karnik also become Deputy Chairman of Karnataka NRI Forum. Though the BJP fielded Capt. Karnik again in 2018 elections, he was defeated by S.L. Bhoje Gowda of the Janata Dal (Secular).

Now, Mr. Gowda is the combined candidate of the BJP and the JD(S) in the constituency as per the alliance between the two parties.

Not bothering about the alliance, BJP rebel Mr. Acharya argued that being an educational hub, denying ticket to a person from Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts, particularly in the Teachers’ constituency, is “a question of self-respect of teachers and voters.”

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