Battlelines drawn for Kanakapura bypoll

BANGALORE, JAN. 20. As was expected, the Cooperation Minister, D. K. Shivakumar, is the Congress candidate in the byelection to the Lok Sabha from the Kanakapura Constituency.

His candidature was announced by the KPCC here today after it was cleared by the AICC President, Sonia Gandhi. The Chief Minister, S. M. Krishna, met Ms. Gandhi in Delhi this morning.

With the Congress naming its candidate, the battlelines have been drawn in the byelection. Mr. Shivakumar will be taking on the former Prime Minister and JD (S) supremo, H. D. Deve Gowda, and the BJP candidate, K. S. Eshwarappa. The Kanakapura seat fell vacant following the death of the Congress MP, M. V. Chandrashekaramurthy.

The Congress has given the go-by to the convention of selecting a near relative of the deceased MP. In this case, Umadevi Chandrashekaramurthy. Elsewhere in Guna in Madhya Pradesh, it has selected Jyotiraditya Scindia, son of late Madhavarao Scindia. According to party sources, the claim of Ms. Murthy will be considered when the elections to the Rajya Sabha are held later this year.

Besides the KPCC President, Allum Veerabhadrappa, and the former chief minister, M. Veerappa Moily, a good number of ministers were present when the name of Mr. Shivakumar was announced at a press conference. They were Mallikarjun Kharge (Home), H. C. Srikantaiah (Revenue), B. K. Chandrashekar (IT), Qamar-ul-Islam (Housing) and Roshan Baig (Tourism).

Explaining the choice of Mr. Shivakumar, Mr. Veerabhadrappa said it was the choice of the party workers in the constituency which was ascertained during their preliminary campaign. As to why the claims of Ms. Chandrashekaramurthy were ignored, he said that they went by considerations such as the opposition they were facing.

Mr. Veerappa Moily denied that Mr. Shivakumar was selected in view of the `powerful' candidate (Mr. Deve Gowda) they were faced with. How could Mr. Gowda be powerful? he asked. Mr. Srikantaiah said that he had had good knowledge of Mr. Deve Gowda as he had opposed him in three parliamentary elections.

Referring to the neutral JD leader, M. C. Nanaiah's allegation that the Congress was in league with the BJP in Kanakapura byelection, Mr. Veerabhadrappa wanted to know the deal between the JD (U) and the JD (S) although the former was still a part of the NDA at the Centre. Mr. Moily questioned the silence of the BJP leaders over the stand taken by the JD (U).

The KPCC President denied the allegation that Mr. Shivakumar had addressed a press conference at the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore Rural, after filing his nomination papers. He had only answered one or two questions and that could not be termed as misuse of office. He was confident that the Congress would win the election.

To a question, he regretted that the former Congress minister, M. P. Keshavamurthy, had resigned from the party to join the JD (S). However, Mr. Srikantaiah maintained that Mr. Keshavamurthy had benefited in every respect from the Congress.

Mr. Shivakumar, who represents the Sathanur Assembly segment of the Kanakapura Constituency, had been in the forefront in opposing Mr. Deve Gowda's campaign in support of the demand of the coconut growers of Channapatna and other places for allowing them to tap neera from coconut palms.

Mr. Gowda had undertaken a padayatra to Bangalore protesting against the killing of two farmers at Vitlenahalli (near Channapatna) over the neera tapping issue. Mr. Shivakumar organised the Congress party's farmers' rally at Channapatna on November 19 last. Like Mr. Deve Gowda, the minister too is a Vokkaliga. The BJP candidate is a Kuruba.

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