In an embarrassment to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the Congress high command on Tuesday chose former Union minister Jaffer Sharief’s grandson Rahaman over his candidate, Byrathi Suresh, to contest the Hebbal Assembly bypoll.
The last minute decision came as a bolt from the blue to the chief minister who had received an informal approval from the central leaders on Suresh’s candidature, and even the B-form was ready.
However, Sharief and senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s influence seems to have prevailed over the high command. Wednesday is the last date for filing nominations papers and elections will be held on February 13.
Sharief and Kharge had opposed Suresh’s candidature stating that he was an outsider. Contesting as an independent candidate, Suresh had defeated Congress’ Iqbal Ahmed Saradagi, a close aide of Kharge, in the 2012 Council polls. Five Congress legislators had cross-voted in favour of Suresh.
With the memory of aide’s defeat fresh in his mind, Kharge did not want Suresh to contest from Hebbal, while Sharief batted for his grandson Rahaman, who lost the 2013 Assembly poll in Hebbal by a margin of 5,500 votes.
The BJP chose sitting MLC Y A Narayanaswamy as its candidate for the Hebbal seat, while JD(S) picked Ismail Sharief. The BJP camp also witnessed sudden change of plans. The state unit alloted the Bidar ticket to former legislator Prakash Khandre.
The saffron outfit had earlier planned to give the ticket to the late Gurupadappa Nagamarapalli’s son Suryakanth, who has a good rapport with senior leader and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and R Ashoka, among others.
But Suryakanth backed out at the last minute. It is said that Suryakanth is not popular among the party cadre in the district. Prakash, a two time legislator, lost from Balki constituency in the 2013 polls against his brother Eshwar.
The Congress has given the ticket to Rahim Khan, who lost the Bidar seat by 1,800 votes in 2013. The JD(S) chose Ajay Khan, who quit the Congress and joined the regional outfit after he was denied a ticket.
In Devadurga, the Congress has given the ticket to the late Venkatesh Naik’s son Rajashekar, the BJP chose former minister Shivanagouda Naik and Kariyamma Naik is the JD(S) candidate.