Elections to the 28 Lok Sabha seats will take place in two phases in Karnataka. While 17 constituencies will go to polls on April 23 in the first phase, elections to 11 constituencies are scheduled for April 30. Out of 28 Parliamentary constituencies, 22 are general while 4 seats are reserved for SCs and 2 seats are reserved for STs. Congress is putting a united show under the leadership of Gulab Nabi Azad, incharge for the Karnataka elections. It seems Congress which failed miserably in the last Assembly by-elections has learnt a lesson and Sonia Gandhi's official election campaign, ?Bharat Nirman Rally? held at Davangere on March 23, resulted in uniting different factions within the party. Surprisingly Congress denied ticket to sitting JD(S) MP Shivanna from Chamarajnagar, who had voted in favour of the Indo-US nuclear deal in the Lok Sabha and was instrumental in saving the then UPA government. Here, the ticket has gone to sitting Kollegal MLA Dhruvanarayana, a young two time legislator. Shivanna lost control and tears rolled down from his eyes when he learnt about his denial of ticket. It seems former deputy chief minister Siddaramaiah and former Union Minister V Srinivas Prasad have succeeded in preventing Shivanna from getting a ticket from Chamarajanagar. During the previous elections to the Lok Sabha, Shivanna won the seat with the support of Srinivas Prasad and other JD(S) leaders. However, Srinivas Prasad and his followers left JD(S) and joined Congress. It was believed that Shivanna, the strong follower of Srinivas Prasad, too will follow his political master'sway by joining Congress by resigning from the JD(S) MP seat. However he refused to support Srinivas Prasad and this irked many leaders. Interestingly, other Lok Sabha Members who voted in favour of the Indo-US Nuclear deal, sitting BJP MP'sfrom Karnataka, Manjunath Kunnur and HT Sangliana got tickets from Congress as promised. The Congress, however, is yet to decide a candidate for Mandya Lok Sabha seat as the sitting Congress MP and Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Ambareesh, is not showing any interest on seeking a re-election. Both BJP and JD(S) is ready to issue a ticket to Ambareesh.
?One man with a courage makes a majority? reads a poster in the Chief Electoral Officer MN Vidyashankar'schamber. This courage may be the reason for booking maximum number of election violation cases in Karnataka. Luxury cars belonging to followers of former chief minister and a Congress candidate N Dharam Singh were seized when he arrived to file his nomination papers in Bidar. Earlier Election Commission had booked a case against Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa for campaigning beyond the permissible time. Karnataka Pradesh Congress committee president RV Deshpande said, out of the 58 poll code violations reported till date, 24 were against the BJP while only 9 were against the Congress party. JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda openly criticised the functioning of the Election Commission and urged the Election Commission to refrain from unnecessary interference, when the Commission seized JD(S) vehicles carrying unaccounted hefty cash.
Bangaluru increased its Lok Sabha Seats to 4 from the earlier 2 (Bangaluru North and Bangaluru South) after the delimitation. Bangaluru North, Bangaluru South, Bangaluru Central and Bangaluru Rural are most sought after by all the parties as the Bangaluru city corporation has become Bruhut Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike by taking adjoing villages and revenue belts into its fold. The present State government has earmarked huge sum for the development of BBMP in the recent State Budget and CM BS Yeddyurappa always refers to this as a significant achievement of the government. Though BJP has not announced a candidate for this seat, cine star and Union Minister Ambareesh (sitting Mandya Congress MP) may get the seat after he resigns Congress and joins BJP. Other names doing the rounds are Ramachandre Gowda, Minister for Medical Education of the Karnataka Government, and Dr CN Ashwathnarayan, a young first time BJP MLA from Malleshwaram. While BJP State unit believes that Dr Ashwathnarayan is the sure winner if he is fielded for Bangaluru North Lok Sabha, his followers are not willing to send him to national politics. Malleshwaram BJP office bearers and locals have written a letter to BJP State unit chief Sadananda Gowda that Dr Ashwathnarayan is working very hard in the capacity of Member of the Legislative Assembly and gaining a popularity among all sections of the society and he be allowed to continue to complete a term as MLA. Former Union Railway Minister and senior Congress leader Jaffer Sheriff is the Congress candidate from this constituency. Bangaluru North which consists of 8 Assembly constituencies with 5 BJP MLA'sand 3 Congress MLA'shas a total 20,48,991 voters (Men 10,78,426 and women 9,70,565).
Bangaluru South, a prestigious seat dominated by BJP in the last 5 elections has a total 19,34,893 voters (Men 10,17,601 and women 9,17,292). BJP National General Secretary HN Ananth Kumar who has retained this seat for the last 4 terms in a row is trying his luck for the fifth time to set a record. The name of the State youth Congress president Krishna Byregowda, who is said to be close associate of Rahul Gandhi, was finalised after the former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna refused to fight Ananth Kumar. Though SM Krishna'sfollowers lobbied with Congress high command for a seat, SM Krishna was reluctant to contest as he is enjoying the Rajya Sabha Membership and chances are open for him to become a Union Minister if Congress is voted to power. Krishna Byregowda, young MLA from Byatarayanapura Constituency, in Bangaluru, had secured 60,979 votes in the last Assembly elections and expressed his gratitude to Congress high command for having chosen him to fight a BJP stalwart Ananth Kumar. When asked how he feels facing a BJP national leader he said, voters wants change and believes in victory though five out of eight MLA'sbelongs to BJP. Captain Gopinath, the man behind famous Air Deccan, a low cost carrier, surprised everyone by announcing his willingness to contest from Bangaluru South as an indipendent. He is planning a massive SMS and internet based Hi-Fi campaign to lure young and techno savvy voters. Whle corporate leaders like Narayan Murthy of Infosys, Kiran Majumdar Shah of Biocon and other prominent business leaders are endorsing him, both BJP and Congress is worried of this development as he may split votes.
Bangaluru Rural has a total 18,67,711 voters (Men 9,73,006 and women 8,94,705). This constituency consists of areas in and around Bangaluru is gaining popularity as former Chief Minister, State JD(S) unit chief and MLA HD Kumara Swamy is contesting. It is a prestige issue to JD(S) to win this seat as the Kumara Swamy'sAssembly Constituency Ramanagaram falls under this Lok Sabha Constituency and JD(S) supremo Deve Gowda has expressed his desire to win as much as 7 seats. Despite the opposition from sitting Congress MLA'sand prominent Congress leaders, the Congress party is again fielding Tejaswini Ramesh, the sitting MP, who won by defeating HD Deve Gowda in the last elections. However it is believed that JD(S) is concentrating with a more focused attention on few winnable seats rather than trying to oversee all 28 seats.
Bangaluru Central which consists 18,16,425 voters (Men 9,43,040 and women 9,70,565) is a important seat for BJP as minorities dominate this area. Congress is fielding Sangliana, an IPS officer and a Christian, who had earlier won Bangaluru North seat on a BJP ticket, joined Congress after he supported Indo-US nuclear deal and he is taking on BJP'snominee and the former MLA PC Mohan. Interestingly JD(S) is fielding a Muslim MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan, as the Muslims are in large number in this Lok Sabha Constituency. If vote division takes place on the lines of religion, Muslim and Christian candidates, will split the votes and BJP candidate will be benefited.
In Bellary, Shanthi, sister of Sriramulu, Health Minister is the BJP'scandidate. Bellary known for extreme heat is witnessing a political heat with Anil Lad, prominent Congress leader and Rajya Sabha Member, accusing Janardhana Reddy, Tourism Minister, for planning to murder him. He complained to the police that he is getting a threatening call and said Reddy brothers are planning to do eliminate him as he is gaining popularity. Anil Lad was a BJP MLA when Reddy brother'swere not prominent in BJP. Then Reddy brothers became undisputed leaders in Bellary, and Anil Lad quit BJP to join Congress. Anil Lad was the first to buy a personal helicopter in the State and now Reddy brothers also own fleet of helicopters.
Shimoga is another constituency of which all are talking about. CM'sson BY Raghavendra is the BJP candidate and the former Chief minister Bangarappa is the Congress candidate. Bangarappa has rejoined Congress after severing his contact with Samajawadi Party. Bangarappa is embroyed in a controversery by calling a local seer, a fraud. This resulted in agitation by Brahmin community and wellwishers of Ramachandrapur Mut which is famous for protecting cows.
All parties are claiming that they will win the maximum number of seats. BS Yedyurappa, CM of Karnataka says he is hoping to get 22-23 seats. Congress chief Deshpande believes that his party will get minimum 20 seats and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda says he will not speak but make it happen. As the BJP government has initiated developmental projects across the State, people of Karnataka may bless the BJP this time too similar to the last Assembly elections and by-elections.