The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shortlisted 4 names, including two defectors from the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) for the June 29 biennial election to contest 4 of the 7 Karnataka legislative Council seats falling vacant, an official said on Tuesday.
"The state core committee shortlisted 4 names and sent them to New Delhi for our high command's approval so that they can file nominations by Thursday to contest in 4 of the 7 Council seats," party official G. Madhusudhana told IANS.
The 4 are H. Vishwanath, M.T.B. Nagaraj, M. Shankar and Sunil Velyapure.
Vishwanath, former JD-S leader, and Nagaraj, former Congress minister, lost in the assembly by-elections on December 5 from Hunsur in Mysuru district and Hoskote in Bengaluru Rural district.
"As Vishwanath and Nagaraj resigned from their assembly segments in July 2019 with 15 other rebels, which led to the fall of the 14-month-old JD-S-Congress coalition government on July 23, 2019, the committee recommended their names for the Council seats," said Madhusudhana.
Shankar, who was an Independent and a minister in the former coalition government, was not given the BJP ticket to contest in the December assembly bypolls though he too resigned from the Ranebennur assembly seat in Haveri district, about 340 km northwest of Bengaluru, along with former Congress and JD-S rebels.
Vishwanath, Nagaraj and Shankar are also aspiring to become ministers in the 10-month-old BJP government after getting elected to the Council, as there are 4 vacancies in the 34-member Yeduiyurappa cabinet.
Velyapura is the party's grass-root leader from Chincholi in Gulbarga district in the state's northern region, about 586km from Bengaluru.
"He (Velyapura) extensively campaigned in the May 2019 general elections and ensured the victory of our candidate Umesh Yadav from the reserved Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat, defeating Congress senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge," recalled Madhusudhana.
As the party has 116 legislators in the 225-member Assembly, all its 4 candidates will need 28 votes each to win the contest.
Of the 7 outgoing Council members, 5 are from the Congress and one each from the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and an Independent.
With 68 lawmakers, the Congress will be able to retain 2 seats and the JD-S one as it has only 34 legislators in the lower house.
Of the 75-member Council, the opposition Congress has 37, BJP 19, JD-S 16, two Independents and one Chairman.