Karnataka polls: BJP faces heat from aspirants as candidate list announced

"We are talking to all of them, the party made them legislators or leaders. The party has treated them with respect and will continue to do so," CM Bommai told reporters.

Bengaluru: Discontent seems to be brewing within the ruling BJP in Karnataka, with the party facing the heat after announcing its first list of candidates for the May 10 Assembly polls, as some ticket aspirants who missed the bus openly expressed displeasure.

With the BJP denying him the ticket from Athani, former Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi on Wednesday announced his decision to resign from the primary membership of the party.

Minister and six-time MLA S Angara from Sullia constituency in Dakshina Kannada district announced his retirement from politics today, after failing to get a ticket again.

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Udupi MLA Raghupati Bhat, who was also overlooked by BJP, said he was deeply pained by the treatment meted out to him by the party.

BJP MLC R Shankar, who was an aspirant for Ranebennur Assembly seat, resigned as legislator today after the party ignored his request.

After a series of deliberations, the BJP on Tuesday announced its first list of 189 candidates out of a total 224.

Reacting to the developments, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the party will speak to all those disgruntled and will take care of their concerns.

“I have certainly made a decision. I have decided to resign from the primary membership of the party,” Savadi, a BJP MLC, said in a press conference in the district headquarters town of Belagavi.

Amid speculation that he may join the Congress, the 63-year-old three-time MLA said he will make a “strong decision” on Thursday evening and start working on it from Friday.

Sitting MLA Mahesh Kumathalli, who was backed by BJP leader and former Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi, was given a ticket in Athani in Belagavi district. Kumathalli was among the group of defectors, including Jarkiholi, who helped the BJP to bring down the Congress-JD(S) coalition and form its government under the leadership of B S Yediyurappa in 2019.

A visibly aggrieved Angara said that this was not the way an MLA who toiled for the party with dedication was to be treated. “I am not disgruntled for being denied a ticket by the party. But this is not a way to honour (me) for working for the party and society without any black spot…. There is no value for honesty”.

The 58-year-old said he was retiring from politics and he will not work for the party any more. The BJP has nominated Bhagirathi Murulya as its candidate from Sullia.

“I am not sad over the party’s decision, but I am pained by the way the party has treated me,” Raghupati Bhat said, breaking into tears while speaking to the media.

He said not even the district unit president of the party had called to inform him about the party’s decision and he came to know of it from television channels.

Describing the party’s official candidate Yashpal Suvarna as “my boy”, Bhat said he had always supported Suvarna’s growth in the party. He said he was so shocked that he could not take an immediate decision on his next course of action.

According to party sources, while deciding tickets, the BJP seems to have adopted a policy of trying to replace some seniors and those nearing “retirement” (75 years of age), while asking leaders to withdraw from the fray if they want tickets for their children. “This may be seen in the second list too,” said a BJP functionary.

Former Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa had on Tuesday told the party’s central leadership that he wishes to retire from electoral politics and requested it to not consider fielding him in the Assembly polls. Former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said the party top brass had told him to make way for youngsters but asserted he wants to contest one last time.

The party has not announced tickets yet for Shivamogga and Hubballi-Dharwad Central, the seats represented by Eshwarappa and Shettar in the first list.

Before leaving for Delhi to meet the central leadership, Shettar in Hubballi today said he wishes to make an exit from politics in a respectful manner and not the way he was asked to make way for others.

“No one has contacted me so far after Nadda ji (BJP National President J P Nadda) called me to Delhi for discussions….I’m going with a positive mindset and in the interest of the party…based on what transpires there I will decide on my future course,” he said.

Shetter who reached Delhi later in the day, conveyed his wish to contest in the May 10 assembly polls in a meeting with party president Nadda, after openly expressing his unhappiness over reports that he may be denied a ticket.

After meeting Nadda, Shettar told reporters that he cited his experience, including his six wins in assembly polls, and was told by the party president that the issue will be discussed with other senior leaders.

Meanwhile, Eshwarappa’s supporters in Shivamogga held several rounds of meetings to put pressure on the party to make him withdraw his retirement or to give the ticket to his son K E Kantesh.

Reacting to allegations by disgruntled leaders and legislators that the party did not treat them with respect, Bommai in Mangaluru said, “We are talking to all of them, the party made them legislators or leaders. The party has treated them with respect and will continue to do so. Also, the party will protect their political future.”

Noting that such reactions are natural during elections, to a question on Savadi, he said, “We share a good bonding and things will be resolved through discussions”. While calling Angara a “gentleman politician”, Bommai said he will speak to him.

At least nine legislators including Ministers Angara (Sullia) and Anand Singh (Vijayanagara), have not been given a ticket. Singh is said to have opted out in favour of his son Siddharth Singh, who has been given a ticket.

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