Springing a surprise, the BJP high command named two of its grassroots cadres - Eranna Kadadi from Belagavi and Ashok Gasti from Raichur to contest in the June 19 Rajya Sabha biennial elections in Karnataka, a party official said on Monday.
Kadadi and Gasti selected for RS
"Our party's central election committee has selected grassroots leaders Kadadi and Gasti as candidates to contest for 2 of the 4 Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant from the southern state," party's state unit spokesman told IANS here.
Kadadi is a strong leader of the politically dominant Lingayat community, which is the ruling party's vote bank in the state and to which chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa belongs.
Kadadi was the party's Belagavi district zilla parishad president in the state's north western region, about 500 km from Bengaluru in the southern state.
Gasti, an advocate by profession, hails from the barber community and belongs to Raichur district in the state's northern region, about 490 km away from Bengaluru.
"Gasti, a law graduate, is a former Raichur district zilla parishad president. Kadadi and Gasti are the party's grassroots members," said the official.
Admitting that the high command did not consider the 3 names the state core committee shortlisted on Saturday, including outgoing member Prabhakar Kore, the official said Kadadi and Gasti would file their nominations at Vidhana Soudha (legislature building) in the city on Tuesday in the presence of the party's state leaders.
Other leaders recommended
As per the procedure, the core committee recommended Kore, former Lok Sabha member Ramesh Katti and Prakash Shetty, a city hotelier, for contesting 2-3 Rajya Sabha seats from a list of candidates, including the party's general secretary and its state's in-charge P. Muralidhar Rao and Nirmal Surana.
Kore, who is also from Belagavi, has been the party's Rajya Sabha member for two terms.
With 116 legislators and support of 2 independents, election of Kadadi and Gasti will be smooth as they require 44 votes each to win the contest.
In fact, the BJP will be left with 30 surplus votes but 14 short of ensuring the victory of its third candidate.
With the term of the 4 members, including 2 from the Congress (B.K. Hariprasad and Rajeev Gowda) and one each from the BJP (Kore) and JD-S Reddy ending on June 25, the Election Commission on June 1 notified the bypoll in the state on June 19, with June 9 as the last date of filing nominations. Vote count is also in the evening of the polling day.
With JD-S supremo H.D. Deve Gowda contesting for the fourth seat in place of Reddy on support from the opposition Congress, prospects of the ruling party (BJP) fielding another candidate for third seat have dashed.
"We have no objection to Gowda entering the Rajya Sabha as he is a former prime minister and one of the tallest political leaders in the southern state. We wish him well," added the BJP spokesman.
Gowda (87) lost in the May 2019 general elections from Tumkur to G.S. Basvaraj of the BJP, though his grandson Prajwal Gowda won from the JD-S bastion Hassan, defeating A. Manju of the BJP.
With 68 lawmakers, the Congress has fielded its veteran Mallikarjun Kharge to contest on the party symbol. After ensuring Kharge's victory with 44 votes, the Congress will have 24 surplus votes to spare.
As the JD-S has 34 MLAs, Gowda will need votes of 10 Congress MLAs for a smooth win at the hustings.