KARNATAKA

Eight bid for Congress ticket in Hassan

HASSAN, MARCH 3. The former MLA, K.H. Hanume Gowda, who has bid for the Congress ticket from the Hassan Assembly constituency, is facing opposition from the taluk Congress leaders. At a recent party meeting convened to elicit the opinion of party workers on the selection of candidates from the constituency, a section of workers opposed the move to give the party ticket to Mr. Hanume Gowda, and in the clash that ensued between the supporters and the opponents of Mr. Hanume Gowda, two persons were injured.

The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee observer, Suresh Yadav, was present.

Mr. Hanume Gowda, who got elected from the Hassan Assembly constituency on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket in the previous elections, identified himself with the district in-charge and Revenue Minister, H.C. Srikantaiah, and the former MP, G. Puttaswamy Gowda, after being expelled from the BJP with seven others. The two leaders played an important role in making him an associate-member of the Congress.

According to sources in the District Congress Committee, Mr. Srikantaiah and Mr. Puttaswamy Gowda are in his favour, despite the opposition from a section of the party workers. As many as eight aspirants, including K.M. Raje Gowda, who was defeated in the previous elections, Channaveerappa, former City Municipal Council President, B.K. Manjunath, Chairman of the Hassan Urban Development Authority, S.K. Nagaraj, President of the State Contractors Credit Cooperative Bank, B.K. Rangaswamy, former Chairman of the Hassan Urban Development Authority, Vinay Gandhi, Vice-President of the State Youth Congress, and K.T. Girish, environmentalist, have applied for nominations to contest from the Hassan constituency.

The District Congress Committee sources said that among the aspirants, the real fight for the party ticket is between Mr. Hanume Gowda and Mr. Raje Gowda.

Mr. Hanume Gowda, who has been accused as a "defector'' by the Congress workers time and again, clarified that he joined the BJP, as he was expelled from the Congress during the previous elections to the Assembly and joined the Congress again as he was expelled from the BJP after the elections. He defended his action saying he did not defect on the two occasions but the parties had forced him to do so.

He blamed a former MLA for the disturbances at the Congress workers meet. "The people in the constituency and the leaders at the district and State level are aware of the developments and the former MLA's `misdeeds' will be made public soon," he said.

Mr. Hanume Gowda said he was working for Congress since 1958 and had represented the party in the Legislative Assembly for three terms. He was expelled from the Congress for having participated in a meeting in Bangalore called by the N.D. Tiwari faction and not for any other reasons. As there were differences of opinion with the BJP leadership, he and others were expelled from that party, he said.

After joining Congress as an associate-member, he had implemented development works worth nearly Rs. 100 crores, he said.

Meanwhile, leaders in the taluk Congress alleged that Mr. Hanume Gowda had "misused'' power and funds released for taking up drought relief works in the district. In a release here on Wednesday, they alleged that Mr. Hanume Gowda had appropriated 12 acres of land in the name of his relatives and diverted Rs. 30 lakhs meant for drought relief works for the development of his land. They also accused Mr. Hanume Gowda of being a habitual defector and a political opportunist.

JD (S) nominee

Though there are several aspirants for the party ticket, the Janata Dal (S) has almost decided to nominate the former MLA, H.S. Prakash, from the constituency. Mr. Prakash was defeated in the previous elections.

BJP candidate

The BJP, which was searching for a candidate to taken on the Janata Dal (S) and the Congress, has heaved a sigh of relief with the entry of the former MLC, B.V. Kari Gowda.

Though the party's Hassan city unit President, Kamal Kumar, and the district unit General Secretary, Dase Gowda, are also aspiring for the party ticket, the State unit leaders have decided to field Mr. Kari Gowda, according to sources.

However, a delegation of the district unit leaders met the State unit leaders and communicated the discontent among party workers over the admission of Mr. Kari Gowda into the party. But, according to the party sources, it has failed to make any impact on the leadership.