Bengaluru: On the last date for the withdrawal of nominations to contest the upcoming by-elections in Karnataka, two Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS) candidates withdrew their names.
JD(S) candidates from Athani and Hirekerur Assembly constituencies, Guru Dashayal and Shivalinga Shivacharya Swami, withdrew their nominations on Thursday after BJP leaders convinced them to do so. Senior BJP functionaries also tried to pacify Ashok Poojary, a rebel BJP leader and JD(S) candidate from Gokak, but he refused to take back his papers.
The BJP on Thursday expelled from its primary membership rebels Sharath Bachegowda and Kaviraj Urs, who are contesting the coming Assembly bypolls as independent candidates, for anti-party activity.
The BJP on Wednesday had asked the party rebels to withdraw their candidature by Thursday, the last day for the process.
Dashayal is a close associate of Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi, who has been refused a ticket to contest from Athani. The ticket has been given to disqualified Congress MLA Mahesh Kumathalli instead. Savadi is neither an MLA nor an MLC and one needs to be a member of either of the two Houses to remain a part of the Cabinet.
Dashayal said no one had asked him to enter the poll fray. However, a day after he insisted there was no question of taking back his nomination despite pressure from BJP leaders and that he would highlight pro-farmer measures of the previous HD Kumaraswamy government, he withdrew the papers on Thursday.
“I have withdrawn my resignation and will start campaigning for the BJP from Friday," he told News18.
In the 2018 state elections, Kumathalli had won the Athani seat on a Congress ticket against Savadi. He was one of the MLAs who resigned in July and withdrew support from the previous Congress-JD(S) coalition government that helped the BJP come to power days later. Savadi had last won the seat in 2013.
In Hirekerur, Shivacharya Swami had filed his nomination on a JD(S) ticket after Kumaraswamy and party workers allegedly put pressure on him “for three days".
"You have seen how they were here for three days. I was clear about my agenda — development of my taluk. They insisted I contest from the JD(S). But now, BY Raghavendra, representing the chief minister (BS Yediyurappa), said my concerns will be heard. Senior seers also advised me to withdraw as the reason why I was contesting in the first place is being taken care of," said the seer.
Shivalinga was accompanied by Raghavendra, MP and son of the chief minister, and other seers as he went to the election office on Thursday to take back his papers. The seer’s joining the poll fray would have split votes of the Lingayat community in the constituency where both the BJP and Congress candidates belong to the same community.
The BJP candidate, BC Patil, is a three-time MLA who won on a JD(S) ticket in 2004 and on a Congress ticket in 2008 and 2018. He too was one of the 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs to have resigned in July.
“They had volunteered to contest the election and we sent B forms to them. I don't want to talk much about their decision to withdraw their nominations. I have seen the way their followers and friends have influenced their decisions. They were under tremendous pressure. There have been reports that pressure was exerted on them with threats of dire consequences," said JD(S) president HD Devegowda.
The JD(S) now has nominees in 12 of the 15 constituencies going for polls on December 5 and is supporting BJP rebel Sharath Bachegowda, who is contesting as an independent candidate from Hosakote. As many as 53 of the total 218 candidates have withdrawn their nominations.