The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) central leadership sprang a surprise on Monday by picking Eranna Bhimappa Kadadi and Ashok Jasti as its candidates for the two Rajya Sabha seats it is set to win from Karnataka, ignoring the candidates recommended by the state unit.
Kadadi, a 54-year-old resident of Belgaum, and Jasti, 55, a leader from Raichur have had a long association with the BJP, having started their political careers as activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student’s wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Jasti oversees BJP affairs in Bellary district, while Kadadi is at the helm of affairs in Belgavi.
The state unit, under the leadership of chief minister BS Yediyurappa and Karnataka BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel, backed Ramesh Katti , the brother of senior MLA Umesh Katti; hotelier Prakash Shetty; and incumbent Upper House member Prabhakar Kore.
Karnataka BJP spokesperson S Prakash admitted to being surprised at the final picks, but defended the move. “Yes, it is a surprise but both of them are grass-roots workers and it only goes to show that BJP is the only party that identifies and rewards those who have worked at the ground level.”
Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar, who is the minister for large and medium industries in the Yediyurappa cabinet, too, said “in a party like BJP, grass-roots level workers are identified and rewarded”.
Political analyst L Manjunath said the choice of candidates clearly indicated that “the state unit had no say (in the matter)...”
Meanwhile, former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal (Secular) said his father, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, will file his nomination for the Rajya Sabha polls after he was asked to do so by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and several other national leaders. Claiming that his father was initially reluctant to contest, Kumaraswamy said it took a big effort to convince him.
Earlier on Monday, Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress candidate, filed his nomination. Elections will be held on June 19 to fill the four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka. Tuesday is the last day for filing nominations and all the four candidates (Deve Gowda with Congress help) are likely to be elected unopposed.