Bengaluru: After a long wait, the Congress declared its candidates to 18 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats it is contesting in Karnataka on Saturday night. It has ceded the remaining eight seats to coalition partner JD(S).
Surprisingly, Bengaluru South and Dharwad are missing from the list. Dharwad votes in the third phase on April 23 and there is still some time left for the party to choose its candidate but polling in Bengaluru South is on April 18 in the second phase and the last day to file nominations is March 26.
Rumour mills are abuzz with the news that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may contest from Bengaluru South, which has been with the BJP since 1991. Local Congress leaders claim they are expecting a surprise candidate from the constituency and the party high command has decided to wait and watch.
Bengaluru South is known to be an anti-Congress seat. Since 1977, it has elected only non-Congress MPs, except in 1989.
The BJP first won the seat in 1991, with renowned economist — the late professor K Venkatagiri Gowda — opening the saffron party’s account here. Between 1996 and till last November, Union minister Ananthkumar was its MP and had won six straight terms from here till his death. His widow Tejaswini Ananthkumar has already opened her election office, expecting a party ticket.
Though Karnataka BJP leaders maintain they have no information about PM Modi contesting from here, city police sources claim they have been asked to tighten security in Bengaluru City on Monday. Sources said the move could be interpreted as a big gun coming to Bengaluru to file nomination on that day.
State Congress leaders maintain that they will field a strong candidate against Modi if he decides to contest from Bengaluru South.
Except two former chief ministers — Kengal Hanumanthaiah and R Gundu Rao — Bengaluru South always had a non-Congress MP. If PM Modi enters the fray from the South, it may enthuse the BJP cadre in the entire Deccan region.