KARNATAKA

BJP to reserve seats for women

BANGALORE, FEB. 26. The State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will reserve one Assembly seat from each Lok Sabha constituency for women candidates.

The decision was taken here today at the first joint meeting of the BJP's office-bearers and the members of the party election committee.

Briefing presspersons, the party spokesperson, S. Suresh Kumar, said that the process of selecting candidates had commenced, and the election committee would meet again this week to finalise the candidates for some constituencies. Today's meeting did not decide on the list of candidates, he added.

The meeting, Mr. Suresh Kumar said, had decided that leaders from other political parties would be admitted into the BJP fold only after a screening by the party functionaries. The election committee would hold meetings with zilla committees from March 3 to 5 on the selection of candidates. The BJP, he said, would keep in mind the interest of various communities/groups while selecting candidates and allocating seats for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

Today's meeting kept to broad outlines on selection of candidates, current affairs in Karnataka, election preparedness of the party (including fund collection drives), election campaign, and vision document for the State, the draft of which would be ready by March 10.

The committees would get down to the nitty-gritty of selection of candidates soon, he added.

Earlier, the BJP State unit President, H.N. Ananth Kumar, said the BJP did not believe in opening counters for receiving applications from ticket aspirants like the Congress had done.

"The BJP is a cadre-based mass organisation and the selection process emanates from the grassroots," he added.

Youth, women in focus: The "polarisation trend", Mr. Kumar said, had enthused the BJP workers, and the party campaign would reach out to each taluk and each ward in urban centres, besides targeting the youth, women, and opinion makers.

The party had constituted "shakti kendras" in each gram panchayat, and the kendra members would exhort the voters to exercise their franchise to increase the percentage of polling in the State.

The BJP had formed 10-member committees for each of the over 37,000 booths to make the voters aware of the electoral practices. The party would organise a convention of members of the committees in each of the Assembly constituencies, he added.

Stamp paper racket: The senior leader of the party, B.S. Yediyurappa, urged the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, to withdraw the law which ensured that Abdul Kareem Telgi remained in the custody of the Karnataka police.

"They have kept him under protection and not allowed him to be taken for investigation elsewhere as they fear that Telgi would reveal names of the politicians involved," he alleged.

AIPJD members join BJP: Leaders of the All-India Progressive Janata Dal (AIPJD) from Koppal, Gangavathi, Bidar, and Aurad joined the BJP.

Among them was the former legislator, Rudragowda Kenchamanavar.