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Congress Gives BSY Virtual Walkover in Shikaripura With Weak Candidate, But JD(S) Steps Up

Congress candidate GB Malatesh, popularly known as Goni Malatesh, is a political ‘nobody’ compared to BS Yeddyurappa, claim his own party workers. The JD(S) has fielded a much stronger candidate, HT Baligar, who is a Lingayat.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:April 18, 2018, 9:59 AM IST
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Congress Gives BSY Virtual Walkover in Shikaripura With Weak Candidate, But JD(S) Steps Up
Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa flashes victory sign along with the party members in Bengaluru (File Photo: PTI)
Bengaluru: While his arch rivals Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and JD(S) state chief HD Kumaraswamy are sweating it out in their Assembly seats for a win, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa is least worried about his seat Shikaripura in Shimoga district.

This is courtesy the light weight Congress candidate in his constituency. The local Congress leaders in Shimoga were hoping that the party would field a strong candidate against BJP stalwart Yeddyurappa. But when the list was announced, they were in for a rude shock as local municipality member and block Congress president GB Malatesh, popularly known as Goni Malatesh, was nominated to take on mighty Yeddyurappa.

Malatesh is not well known even in Shimoga district and when compared to Yeddyurappa, he is a political ‘nobody’, claim his own party workers.

Since Shikaripura is a Lingayat-dominated seat, Congress workers had been demanding that a powerful Lingayat leader be fielded to take on Yeddyurappa there.

The names of former MLA Mahalingappa, Nagarada Mahadevappa and former MLC Shanthaveerappa Gowda were also doing rounds till last week. Mahalingappa had defeated Yeddyurappa on a Congress ticket in 1999 and Shanthaveerappa Gowda had lost to Yeddyurappa’s son BY Raghavendra by about 6,000 votes in 2014 Assembly bypolls.

Shanthaveerappa Gowda returned to the BJP recently and some Congress workers were hoping that the party would lure him back.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was planning to field local MLC and former district Congress president Prasanna Kumar from Shikaripura. The name of Malatesh was nowhere under consideration and his candidature has led to a furious debate in political circles.

Ramesh Appanna, a local Congress supporter, said that his party had given Shikaripura to Yeddyurappa on a platter. “Malatesh is a nobody. He is a Kuruba by caste, not a Lingayat. He won’t be able to take on Yeddyurappa. We know that it is very difficult to defeat Yeddyurappa. But we expected the Congress to field a candidate with some stature. The party has let us down.”

He claims that someone in the Congress is helping Yeddyurappa for reasons best known to them. “I heard that a senior minister has helped him by fielding a weak candidate against him. These are all rumours. I can’t confirm anything,” he said.

The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) dismisses these claims as “imaginations of some disgruntled elements” in the party.

Shimoga district Congress president TN Srinivas rubbished the claims of an “understanding” with Yeddyurappa, saying that a Kuruba candidate like Malatesh can mobilise Backward Class, Muslim and SC/ST votes against Yeddyurappa.

On the contrary, the JD(S), which the Congress has called the ‘B’ team of the BJP, has fielded a much stronger candidate, HT Baligar, who is a Lingayat. He is campaigning across Shikaripura, enthusing the party workers.

The neighbouring Soraba MLA and JD(S) leader Madhu Bangarappa is behind Baligar’s candidature. Speaking to News18, Madhu said he was confident of giving a tough fight to Yeddyurappa.

“In 1999, my father late S Bangarappa had got both Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa defeated. Nobody is invincible. We will ensure that Yeddyurappa will have to sweat it out this time,” he said.

Current BJP MLA and Yeddyurappa’s elder son BY Raghavendra is handling his father’s campaign in the constituency. Yeddyurappa is likely to campaign only closer to voting day, May 12.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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