BJP indecisive on giving tickets to tainted leaders

The BJP, which has been talking of cleansing the party ever since it got a new party president, is not in a position to take a final call on whether all the tainted ticket aspirants, irrespective of how powerful they are, should be denied tickets or it should choose candidates, keeping winnability as a criterion.

With no strict guidelines or a policy, the State BJP election committee meeting held on Tuesday remained inconclusive, with the party failing to come to a consensus on issuing party tickets to sitting legislators who are facing corruption charges.

Interestingly, some leaders against whom private complaints have been filed are themselves on the election panel. For instance, deputy chief ministers K S Eshwarappa and R Ashoka are facing cases in the Lokayukta Court.

The party has decided to wait for several fence-sitters who have been tilting towards the KJP to make their move, before announcing the final list of candidates.

According to party sources, the meeting - attended by State party president Pralhad Joshi, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, K S Eshwarappa and R Ashoka, BJP national general secretary H N Ananth Kumar, former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda among others also failed to come to a consensus on finalising the list in several constituencies with multiple contenders.

The meeting is understood to have debated at length whether tainted legislators such as Katta Subramanya Naidu, Krishnaiah Setty and Y Sampangi should be given tickets. While there was a consensus that Sampangi cannot be given a ticket as he had been convicted by a Lokayukta Court, there was varied opinion about Naidu and Setty. Both of them have been taken into judicial custody for different periods, but the trials against them are yet to be completed.

Besides, private complaints have been filed in Lokayukta Courts against several sitting legislators, including Eshwarappa, Ashoka, M Srinivas, S R Vishwanath, Muniraju and Abhay Patil. Sources said big names like Eshwarappa and Ashoka would get party tickets on the ground that mere filing of complaints against them would not make the legislators guilty.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Joshi said the committee would meet again on March 28 and 29 and seek reports from district core-committees before finalising the list. “In all probability, we will shortlist a single candidate for each constituency and send the list to the party central leadership on March 30,” he said.

On legislators facing corruption charges, Joshi said the party was considering the instances on a case by case basis.

“We have sought all information and are studying the complaints closely. We will take an appropriate decision shortly,” he said.

Four ministers/legislators are likely to quit the BJP to join the KJP in the next few days. They are Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani, Excise Minister M P Renukacharya, Agriculture Minister Umesh Katti and Housing Minister V Somanna.
It is said the party has already shortlisted alternative candidates in the constituencies represented by these ministers. Last minute efforts are being made to retain Somanna in the BJP.

The BJP manifesto committee chairman D B Chandre Gowda said the manifesto would be released in the first week of April.

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