Et Tu, BJP? Election Compulsions Force Saffron Party to Offer Tickets to Dynasts in High-Voltage K’taka Polls


Karnataka Elections 2023

The BJP has often stressed on “dynasty-mukt Bharat”, calling dynasties the “biggest enemy” of democracy. However, the saffron party’s choice of candidates for the upcoming high-voltage elections in Karnataka does not subscribe to that motto.

With a focus on ‘next-gen’ faces, winnability and caste matrix balance to ensure the ruling party is back in the driver’s seat in the state, the BJP is forced to give tickets to the family members of sitting or former politicians.

If one goes through the two lists of BJP announced so far, 16 children of former or current MLAs, two spouses, four brothers and six uncles/nephews/ brothers-in-law have been give tickets.

Sons & daughters benefit

The Congress, which has been the target of BJP’s ‘dynasty’ salvo, was quick to pull out the dynasts in the list of 212 candidates for the total 224 seats in Karnataka’s assembly.

Sixteen candidates — who are sons and daughters of former or sitting MLAs in Karnataka — have been given BJP tickets.

Top of the list is Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, son of SR Bommai who served as Karnataka’s chief minister between 1988 and ‘89. A three-time MLA from Shiggaon, Bommai has been given a ticket this time as well to contest from the seat.

Parliamentary board member and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra will contest from Shikaripura. BSY recently retired from electoral politics and announced that his son would stand in his place. Nikhil Katti, son of late Umesh Katti, will contest from Hukkeri, while sitting MLA from Chincholi Avinash Jadhav — son of BJP’s Lok Sabha MP Umesh Jadhav — will contest from the same seat. Kalburgi Dakshin’s sitting MLA Dattatreya Patil is the son of late Chandrashekhar Patil Revoor who represented the same seat. Sitting Dharwad MLA Amrut Desai is the son of former MLA Ayyappa Basavaraj Desai and has also been given a ticket.

Anand Singh, who is a minister in the Bommai government, has pinned his hopes on getting a ticket in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections. He had sought and managed to get a ticket for his son Siddharth Singh from Vijayanagara of the newly carved out Vijayanagara district.

Arvind Bellad (son of former MLA Chandrakant Bellad), who presently represents the Hubbali-Dharwad-West assembly seat, will contest again.

Hiriyur MLA Poornima Srinivas, daughter of former minister A Krishnappa, will contest. Tumakuru City BJP nominee is GB Jyothi Ganesh, son of Tumakuru MP GS Basavaraj; Saptagiri Gowda, who will contest from Gandhinagar, is the son of former minister Ramachandra Gowda; Sira’s BJP candidate Rajesh Gowda is the son of former Lok Sabha MP from Chitradurga, CP Mudalagiriyappa.

Goutham Gowda has been given a ticket to contest from Ramanagaram and he will face the son of JDS leader HD Kumaraswamy — Nikhil Kumaraswamy. Gowda is the son of Marilinge Gowda, a former MLC from JD(S). Preetham Nagappa’s parents — father H Nagappa and mother Parimala Nagappa — have been MLAs and the son will now contest from Hanur.

Ashwini Sampangi, at present the MLA from Kolar Gold Fields, is the daughter of Y Sampangi who had made way for his daughter to contest in the 2018 assembly polls.

First-time assembly election contestant Lalitha Anapur is the former chairperson of Yadgir CMC and vice-president of the women’s wing of the BJP. She will contest from Gurmitkal and is the daughter of former Yadgir MLA Moulana Anpur. Somanagouda B Patil (Sasanur) has been given a ticket from Devar Hipparg and his father, BS Patil Sasanur, was a former BJP MLA and minister in the SM Krishna government.

Two spouses — minister Shashikala Jolle, wife of Chikkodi MP Annasaheb Jolle, and Ratna Anand Mamani, wife of deputy speaker of Karnataka assembly Late Anand Mamani who passed away last year — have been given tickets to contest from Nippani and Saundatti Yellamma respectively.

The Jarkiholi, Katti and Reddy brothers will also be in the fray on a BJP ticket.

The Jarkiholi family and Katti family get two tickets each. Two brothers of mining baron-turned-politician Gali Janardhan Reddy — who was once with the BJP and has now floated his own party Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha (KRPP) — have also been given tickets. Somashekhar Reddy will contest from Ballari city while Karunakar Reddy will fight from Harappanahalli assembly seat.

In the incumbent assembly, four Jarkiholi brothers — Ramesh (BJP), Balachandra (BJP), Lakhan (Independent) and Satish (Congress) — had been elected to the Upper and Lower Houses of the Karnataka assembly.

Former ministers Ramesh Jarkiholi and Balachandra Jarkiholi will contest from Gokak and Arabhavi on a BP ticket. It is interesting to note that Balachandra is also the chairman of the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), the parent company of Nandini milk products which was in the news over a power tussle with Amul.

Senior BJP leader Umesh Katti, an influential North Karnataka leader who tested political waters in several parties before finally settling down with the BJP, passed away recently. His son Nikhil is contesting from Hukkeri and his uncle Ramesh Katti — who had earlier represented the Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat from 2009-2014 — has been given a party ticket to contest from Chikkodi Salga.

Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya’s uncle Ravi Subramanya, who is also a sitting MLA, has been given the Basavangudi ticket, while senior BJP leader and minister B Sreeramulu’s nephew Suresh Babu will contest from Kampli. Sreeramulu himself is the nephew of Sunn Fakirappa, an MP from Ballari, and the leader has shifted his constituency from Molkalmuru to Ballari Rural. Sreeramulu had contested from two seats in the 2018 elections — Badami and Molkalmuru. In Badami, he gave then former CM and present leader of opposition Siddaramaiah a tough battle and lost by a wafer-thin margin of 1,696 votes.

CV Raman Nagar MLA S Raghu is the brother-in-law of former minister Arvind Limbavali who also represents the Mahadevapura assembly segment.

The brother-in-law of GT Deve Gowda, known as the giant slayer who defeated Siddaramaiah in Chamundeshwari in the previous polls, has been given a ticket to contest from Siddlaghatta constituency.

Former BJP minister Kumar Bangarappa, son of former Congress chief minister S Bangarappa who also represented Sorab, will once again contest from his father’s seat on a BJP ticket.

The BJP has fielded Nagaraj Chabbi, who quit the Congress last week to join the saffron party, has made him their candidate from the Kalghatgi assembly constituency while his nephew Shivaraj Sajjanar, the current MLA from Hangal, has once again been given a ticket for the same seat.

Reacting to the list, Karnataka Congress spokesperson Priyank Kharge said: “The BJP claiming to be a non-dynastic party is the biggest myth in the country. Have a look from top to bottom, from Delhi to Karnataka… they always have this patronage… from Rajnath Singh’s son to Amit shah’s son. At one point in Karnataka, they wanted three people from Yediyurappa’s family — BSY himself and his sons Vijayendra and Raghavendra in politics. If you are completely against dynastic politics, you must be completely [against it] and take a firm stand — no relatives, no sons or daughters. You cannot have a blow hot, blow cold relationship.

“I have a question. Why is the BJP shying away from declaring their relatives? Are they ashamed to show in public that they are from the same family?”

However, BJP’s chief spokesperson MG Mahesh said the party’s perception of family politics is that one family or one dynasty cannot control an entire political party. “We are not against any family member participating in politics. Our point of concern is that one family or one dynasty cannot control a party. BJP is a cadre-based party and of course, we are accommodating family members of leaders because they have been working for 30-40 years and have contributed to BJP for decades. In the Congress, a family itself is taking the decision for a political party which is not wise,” he said.

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