Congress Finalises Jayachandra, Kusuma as Candidates for Nov 3 Karnataka Bypolls

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

The BJP is yet to announce its nominee and the party’s state unit has sent its recommendations to the high command.

The Congress on Wednesday named former Minister T B Jayachandra and Kusuma H, the wife of late IAS officer D K Ravi, as its candidates for the November 3 bypolls in Sira and Rajarajeshwari Nagar assembly segments. The byelection in Sira was necessitated following the death of JD(S) legislator B Sathyanarayana in August, while the Rajarajeshwari Nagar (R R Nagar) seat fell vacant after the disqualification of Congress MLA N Munirathna under the anti-defection law last year.

Jayachandra had represented Sira in Tumakuru district in 2008 and 2013 by defeating Sathyanarayana, who in turn had emerged victorious against him in the 2018 polls. Apparently with an eye on sympathy votes, JDS has fielded Sathyanarayana’s wife Ammajamma as its candidate in Sira.

The BJP is yet to announce its nominee and the party’s state unit has sent its recommendations to the high command. Speculations are rife in the J P Nadda-led party circles that radiologist Dr C M Rajesh Gowda, the son of former Congress MP C P Mudalagiriyappa, who had recently joined the BJP along with several local political workers and leaders, is likely to be named as the candidate.

Congress and JD(S) are traditional rivals for the Sira seat, which the BJP has never won. If BJP fields a strong candidate, the Sira bypoll is likely to see a three cornered contest.

After the recent victories in K R Pet and Chikkaballapura bypolls, BJP is keen to make further inroads into the old Mysuru region, where the party is weak. So the ruling party is expected to go all out in Sira.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s son and state party Vice President B Y Vijayendra had made several visits to the constituency before he was infected with COVID. In R R Nagar, the Congress has fielded a fresh face — Kusuma H.

Kusuma (31), who holds an MS degree in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, is currently an assistant professor of computer science engineering at Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering. She is the wife of IAS officer D K Ravi, who died in March 2015.

Her father Hanumantharayappa was earlier with the Congress before jumping ship to JD(S). He had unsuccessfully contested the 2008 assembly polls from RR Nagar on the regional party’s ticket. JD(S) has shortlisted three probables — party city unit chief R Prakash, RR Nagar President Bettaswamy Gowda and a leader from the Jnananbharathi ward Krishnamurthy.

The ruling BJP is also yet to announce its candidate. Speculations are rife that the party may field Munirathna, whose disqualification necessitated the bypolls from the seat, but there are also reports about strong resistance within the party against his candidature.

A section of the party has pitched for fielding Tulsi Muniraju Gowda, the party’s defeated candidate in the 2018 elections. Munirathna, who was a Congress MLA, had quit last year along with others, which led to the fall of the coalition government, and subsequently joined the BJP.

It is said that he was promised the ticket by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and others. According to BJP sources, the party’s state leadership has recommended the names of Munirthana and Tulsi Muniraju Gowda to the high command for it to decide on one of them as the candidate.

The stakes are high for all the three political parties in the bypolls, more so for the ruling BJP, as the results will be seen in many quarters as a reflection of the government’s performance, including COVID management. For Congress and JD(S) too, the bypolls are crucial as they will be keen on retaining one seat each that they had won during the 2018 assembly polls and will be focusing on gaining an additional seat.

The results will be crucial for leaders like CM Yediyurappa, amid talks that the BJP high command is considering a leadership change in Karnataka and also state Congress President D K Shivakumar and JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy to assert their command over the Vokkaliga community, which has considerable presence in both constituencies. Much is at stake for Shivakumar after the recent CBI raids as he is looking at consolidating his position in the party by winning both seats, especially R R Nagar, as it comes under Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha constituency, represented by his brother D K Suresh.

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