K’taka CM can smile...
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah may have some reason to smile. Contrary to the Congress’ custom where the coveted “B” form is rarely a given, he released an almost complete list of 218 candidates for the May 12 Assembly polls in one go. Fending off objections from party stalwarts, he renominated not just 117 MLAs, he gave tickets as promised to all his JD( S) and BJP protégés, who will prove crucial post- poll if and when it comes to a fight for the chief ministership. This includes wealthy industrialist Ashok Kheny, for whom he wangled Bidar South in the face of objections by senior Congressman Mallikarjun Kharge.
While Mr Kharge is unlikely to work against the party, the problems posed by 12 sitting legislators, denied tickets either due to their dubious track record or poor health, can’t be overstated. Specially after Bagalkot MLA H. Y. Meti, a former minister involved in a sex scandal, was renominated, Mandya strongman actor Ambarish failed to get his nominees in and couldn’t stop angry workers from running amok in Mandya.
The CM himself faced the embarrassment of having his re- election bid restricted to a single seat, Vokkaliga- dominated Chamundeshwari, which is a tough call. In caste- driven Karnataka, Mr Siddaramaiah’s Lingayat ploy to break the BJP’s hold over the majority community may or may not work to the Congress’ advantage. But in playing the dynast card, letting senior ministers field their progeny, the BJP will have a field day.
But the BJP's B. S. Yeddyurappa is likely to field his son B. S. Vijayendra against Siddaramiah's son in Varuna, while S. M. Krishna's daughter Shambhavi may get a ticket in Bengaluru.