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Karnataka polls: BJP slams Congress for fielding Choksi's lawyer; updates

While the ruling Congress party has released its complete list of candidates for the upcoming Karnataka Assembly elections 2018, the BJP has so far released the names of 154 candidates in 2 tranches

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

karnataka elections, karnataka polls, congress, bjp
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI Photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP's) national information in-charge Amit Malviya has accused Congress for giving election ticket to Mehul Choksi's lawyer, H S Chandramouli, for the Madikeri Assembly seat. Chandramouli is an advocate who once represented fugitive diamond merchant Mehul Choksi, uncle of PNB scam-accused Nirav Modi.

Supreme Court advocate and CM Siddaramaiah’s legal advisor Brijesh Kalappa expressed his annoyance over losing out on the Madikeri seat to Choksi's lawyer, a newcomer in the party. The Madikeri constituency was won by BJP’s Appachu Ranjan in the last two elections. Kalappa cleared his stance, saying: "I have never represented Mehul Choksi, nor have I been given the party nomination."

Ever since the Congress party announced its list of 218 candidates for the Karnataka Assembly election 2018, to be held on May 12, there has been an anguish and internal revolt, with several party leaders discontented for being denied tickets. The Congress’ selection of Chandramouli is being heavily censured and questioned, not only by BJP but also by several leaders within the Congress.

The upcoming is important for both the ruling Congress and the BJP, which is eyeing a comeback after a gap of five years, by unseating the Congress in the last big state where the Rahul Gandhi-led party is still in power.

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The BJP on Monday released its second list of 82 candidates for election to the 224-member Assembly, to be held on May 12. At least five names in the BJP's second list have a past taint for alleged corruption, rape cases, forgery and cheating – and the saffron party is facing censures for giving tickets to these contenders.

On Monday, BJP's central election committee, comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, discussed the names for the second list of candidates. After the release of the second list, the BJP has so far named its candidates for 154 of the state’s 224 constituencies.

Among the BJP candidates whose selection has caused a flutter – and some discontent – among political circles are the elder brother of tainted mining baron G Janardhan Reddy, the son of late chief minister S Bangarappa, Katta Subramanya Naidu, and Krishnaiah Setty, who were imprisoned in land scams but acquitted later. Though the BJP national president Amit Shah denied any connection with G Janardhana Reddy, the party gave a ticket to his brother G Somashekhara Reddy to contest from the Ballari city.

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G Somashekhara Reddy had earlier been charged with bribing a judge to get his jailed brother G Janardhana Reddy out on bail.

Also, the party has fielded Haratalu Halappa, who has been acquitted in a rape case, to contest from the Sagar constituency.

Krishnaiah Setty, who will contest from Malur, was BJP's chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa's companion in jail as a co-accused in a multi-crore land scam in 2011.

Similarly, Katta Subramanya Naidu, who has been given a ticket from the Shivajinagar constituency, was behind bars on charges of a land fraud involving his firm Itasca in 2011.

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M P Renukacharya, who will be contesting the electoral battle from Honnalli, was accused of sexually harassing a nurse as a minister in the Yeddyurappa government. Renukacharya had later said the nurse withdrew cases against him.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had on April 8 declared its first list of 72 nominees, including its chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, and senior leaders K S Eshwarappa and Jagadish Shettar. Yeddyurappa had floated his own party, Karnataka Janata Paksha, at the time of the previous state election after being removed as chief minister by the BJP over graft charges. The Lingayat leader, however, merged his party with the BJP in 2014.

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Congress, too, had released its complete list of 218 candidates on Sunday. It has fielded Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's son Yatheendra from Varuna constituency. Setting aside all speculation of contesting from two seats, Siddaramaiah has been given a ticket from his traditional bastion of Chamundeshwari in Mysore.

Karnataka will go to the polls on May 12. The last date for filing nominations for the 224 constituencies is April 24, while April 27 is the last date for withdrawal of candidature. The results will be out on May 15.

Here are the top 10 developments on the BJP and Congress releasing their lists of candidates for the upcoming and the key takeaways from the lists:

1. Congress draws flak for giving ticket to Mehul Choksi’s lawyer: Days after the ruling Congress declared its list of 218 candidates for the Karnataka Assembly elections, BJP has attacked the party over its selection of candidates. The Congress has given an election ticket to former state public prosecutor H S Chandramouli from Madikeri seat. Incidentally, Chandramouli is representing PNB scam-accused Nirav Modi's uncle Mehul Choksi. His selection has outraged many, both within the party and outside.

CM Siddaramaiah’s legal advisor Brijesh Kalappa asked how Chandramouli could contest even when he had lost a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) election. In a tweet, Kalappa took a jibe at the 'Chandramouli-Choksi' connection. "I have never represented Mehul Choksi, nor have I been given the party nomination," he wrote. BJP's national information in-charge Amit Malviya questioned what was so special about Mehul Choksi's lawyer that the Congress gave him a ticket. BJP’s Appachu Ranjan has won the Madikeri seat in the past two state elections.

2. Former BJP MLC creates havoc over unfair ticket distribution: Angry over not being declared a nominee in Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) second list of candidates, former party MLC Shashil Namoshi's supporters staged a protest. Addressing the media, Namoshi said, "I have been working for the party for a long time and was shocked to hear that my name is not there, I don't know what happened but it has hurt me." Overwhelmed, the BJP leader broke down halfway through the presser and had to be escorted out by his supporters.

3. GPS fitted cars will be on election duty in Karnataka: To ensure free and fair election, the Election Commission (EC) has installed Global Positioning System (GPS) devices in the cars that will be on duty for the upcoming The decision has been taken as a security measure to avoid any cheating and violence in the polling booths as election day inches closer.

4. BJP fields Jolle couple: In an extraordinary move in the history of Karnataka politics, BJP has decided to field a couple-Anna Saheb Jolle and Shashikala Jolle, from Chikkodi and Nippani constituencies respectively, both in Belagavi district. While Shashikala is an MLA from Nippani constituency, Anna Saheb has been selected as a candidate from Chikkodi. Shashikala, who will be contesting her third elections since 2008 is looking to win for the second consecutive term.

5. BJP accuses Karnataka govt for not tackling the issue of child sexual abuse: BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar has accused the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka of not doing enough to curb sexual child abuse in the state, saying the number of such cases increased by ten times in the past five years. He said more than 93 per cent of the cases were still pending for trial. He said the statistics show that the Siddaramaiah government despite overwhelming evidence of rise in crimes against children has done very little to curb the menace.

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6. Congress sets up cell to quell revolt in poll-bound Karnataka: Karnataka's ruling Congress government has set up a special cell to monitor and pacify the rebellion developing in the party from a score of legislators and contenders whose names did not appear in the 218 candidates. The party spokesperson said that cell members will soon meet the protesting people and explain them why they could not be selected to contest this time for multiple reasons. The disappointed party cadres also vowed to campaign against the selected candidates if their leaders were ignored and denied opportunity to fight in the polls.

7. Rahul Gandhi likely to visit Karnataka thrice: Congress president Rahul Gandhi is likely to make at least three visits to Karnataka build up the party's campaigning more strongly as it seeks to retain its bastion. According to the sources, Gandhi is expected to visit those areas of the state which he has not visited yet as part of his Jana Aashirwada Yatre there. "All his rallies and meetings till now have received a good response. There is a feeling among Karnataka workers that he should cover more areas in the four regions of the state to ensure our victory," a party leader said.

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8. Karnataka minister takes a jibe at Yogi Adityanath over Unnao rape case: The BJP members took to the streets on Sunday to protest Working President Dinesh Gundu Rao's 'inciting remarks' against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He said, "Mr. Adityanath is a disgrace to Indian politics, and he is unfit to be the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. If he had any decency he would have resigned by now because his government has been exposed, his own MLA has committed the crime." After his comments, BJP State General Secretary N Ravikumar filed a complaint with the Election Commission against Gundu Rao.

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9. CM Siddaramaiah biased towards ex-JD(S) leaders in Congress? With regard to the ticket distribution, a senior Congress leader said that Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah preferred those more who came from his former party, Janata Dal (Secular). "It's a reality of our party. Our Chief Minister, along with others, came from JD(S) and so he gives more importance to them. It seems he has no attachment to the old leaders and cadres (of Congress)," party leader K Rahman Khan told ANI. This comes after the Congress workers vandalised the party office in Mandya to protest against the distribution of tickets for the upcoming elections.

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10. BJP MP invites Rahul Gandhi for a debate on child safety: To know Rahul Gandhi's his stand on Kathua rape case, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar invited the Congress president for a debate on child safety and what Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has done to protect children in Karnataka so far. Since February 2014, Chandrasekhar said he has been urging Siddaramaiah to act on child safety issues to put in place safety guidelines, regulations for schools and have more child courts.

11. Facebook takes initiative to start pilot against fake news in Karnataka: Social media giant Facebook is introducing a third-party fact-checking programme in India to combat the spread of "false news" on its platform, starting with a pilot in Karnataka, which goes to polls next month. Facebook said it has partnered with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, for a project in Karnataka. BOOM will review English language news stories flagged on Facebook, check facts, and rate their accuracy.

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 13:28 IST