KARNATAKA

Raichur Congress workers upbeat

RAICHUR, FEB. 26. The Congress workers in Raichur district seem to be in an upbeat mood as the name of A. Venkatesh Naik, member of the dissolved Lok Sabha, figures in the list of probable candidates for the Lok Sabha elections prepared by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee Election Committee.

Though the list is yet to be approved by the Central Election Committee of the party, it appears certain that Mr. Naik will contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Raichur constituency.

Mr. Naik, who is the President of the district Congress, filed his application in advance seeking re-election to the Lok Sabha. It is likely that the party High Command may favour his candidature when it finalises the first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Naik, who contested the Lok Sabha elections from Raichur constituency for first time in 1991, won the seat with a margin of 1,22,458 votes defeating his rival, Nazeer Ahmed Siddiqui of the Janata Dal. But in the 1996 elections, the Janata Dal candidate, Raja Rangappa Naik, defeated him.

Again in 1998, the party fielded Mr. Naik who won the elections by a margin of 78,278 votes over Mr. Rangappa Naik of the Janata Dal. It was yet another victory for Mr. Naik in the 1999 elections when he defeated Abdul Sammad Siddiqui of the Bharatiya Janata Party by a big margin of 1,72,206 votes. In view of these facts, the party may field Mr. Naik from the constituency where voters belonging to the Naik community are predominant.

Workers disappointed

But the Congress is facing a different situation in Koppal district where the MP, H.G. Ramulu, is likely to be replaced by a new face.

Members of the Koppal District Congress Committee seemed to be disappointed as the name of Mr. Ramulu has been dropped by the party's Election Committee. It has preferred to refer the constituency to a panel (yet to be formed) to field a new candidate to fight the Lok Sabha elections.

Though Mr. Ramulu got elected to the Koppal Lok Sabha constituency four times (1980, 1984, 1998 and 1999), the party denied him the ticket in 1991 and 1996.

Mr. Ramulu did not seek re-election from the constituency this time. In fact, he has indicated to the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, that he has no intention to contest the elections on the grounds of ill health.

At the same time, he has proposed the name of K. Veerupakshappa, former MLA and Vice-President of the Pradesh Congress Committee, for the Lok Sabha elections from Koppal constituency.

Even the Koppal District Congress Committee, headed by Mr. Ramulu's son, H.R. Srinath, who was recently elected to the Legislative Council from the Raichur local bodies' constituency, had recommended the candidature of Mr. Veerupakshappa.

However, the district committee submitted an application to the Pradesh Congress Committee seeking re-nomination of Mr. Ramulu after the due date.

By that time, the Pradesh Congress Committee had considered the name of Mr. Veerupakshappa for the Koppal Lok Sabha constituency.