KARNATAKA

Fiery speeches put parties into poll gear

S. Rajendran

BANGALORE: The three major political parties in the State — the Congress, its coalition partner, the Janata Dal (Secular), and the Bharatiya Janata Party — are in election mode judging by the high-voltage political discourse in the past few days.

They expect that the Election Commission of India will announce the dates for the byelections from the Shimoga Lok Sabha and the Chamarajpet Assembly constituencies in a few days.

Resignations

The bypolls have been necessitated by the resignation of the former BJP MP from Shimoga, S. Bangarappa, and that of S.M. Krishna, former Chief Minister and Chamarajpet MLA, on his appointment as Maharashtra Governor.

The byelections are expected to be held in the third week of May and they promise to be no-holds-barred contests. The Congress and the Janata Dal (S), despite their alliance, are once again indulging in a slanging-match. Apparently the two parties want to win on their own since this will give them bargaining power in the coalition.

Convention

The Janata Dal (S) virtually started its campaign two days ago by organising a convention, "Grameena Janotsava," in Bangalore. Although the convention was ostensibly to felicitate party supporters elected to gram

panchayats, the larger aim was to get the party into election mode and patch up differences among the senior leaders. The former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda said he will not promote his two sons in politics as a future Chief Minister if the Janata Dal (S) gets an opportunity to form government. This statement was obviously aimed at mollifying the Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, who is upset with him.

Meet on Monday

Sources in the Janata Dal (S) told The Hindu here that the first preparatory meeting for the byelections will be held on Monday when the senior leaders meet to discuss the probable candidates. Prior to the meeting, the party's State unit President, N. Thippanna, will hold discussions with Mr. Deve Gowda. It is learnt that the Janata Dal (S) leadership is keen on fielding a Muslim candidate for the Chamarajpet seat and it might opt for Zameer Ahmed, who narrowly lost the last Assembly election from Jayanagar to R. Ramalinga Reddy of the Congress, now Minister.

Mr. Thippanna told The Hindu that there is no question of the Janata Dal (S) having an understanding with the Congress.

His party does not have a ready candidate for the Shimoga bypoll. As in the Bidar Lok Sabha byelection, the party is firm on fielding a candidate. It wants a Saadu Veerashaiva nominee, who, it feels will be in a position to challenge Mr. Bangarappa, an Idiga and President of the Samajwadi Party State unit. The Congress candidate is likely to be Ayanur Manjunath, who is a Saadu Lingayat of the Sirigere sect. The Chamarajpet byelection is expected to be a continuation of the political war between Mr. Deve Gowda and Mr. Krishna. The Congress candidate for the bypoll will obviously be a supporter of Mr. Krishna. Reports have it that the names of Prema Krishna, wife of Mr. Krishna, and R.V. Devaraj, who was elected to the Legislative Council, are being considered. In the last polls, Mr. Devaraj, who was representing the constituency, made way for Mr. Krishna to contest. Mr. Devaraj continues to have a big following in Chamarajpet.

BJP's preparations

The BJP seems to have left its internal problems behind and started work to retain the Shimoga seat and wrest the Chamarajpet seat. It is hoping to rope in Mr. Manjunath, who resigned from the party and joined the Congress. However, the former party MLA from Chamarajpet Pramila Nesargi is keen to contest again.

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