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Munirathna and Rajesh Gowda are BJP candidates for bypolls

Ending days of speculation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced former MLA Munirathna, who joined the party last year after quitting the Congress, as its candidate in the byelection to Rajarajeshwarinagar Assembly seat. Another new entrant to the party, Rajesh Gowda, a medical practitioner, has been given ticket to contest in Sira.

The R.R. Nagar seat had fallen vacant following the resignation of Mr. Munirathna, who had won in 2018 on Congress ticket. The Sira seat fell vacant following the death of JD(S) MLA B. Sathyanarayana.

There were several aspirants from the BJP’s own cadre for both seats. But consistent with its stand of giving tickets to those from other parties who quit their Assembly membership to help the saffron party capture power in the State, the BJP central election committee picked Mr. Munirathna.

Much uncertainty

There was uncertainty as the party’s State core committee had recommended the name of local leader Tulsi Muniraju Gowda along with that of Mr. Munirathna. However, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is said to have insisted on giving ticket to Mr. Munirathna on the grounds that he had crossed over to the BJP following an assurance of getting ticket to contest bypolls.

However, concerns are far from over for Mr. Munirathna as the State BJP leaders now have the onerous task of making the party workers and grassroots leaders, along with Mr. Gowda, fall in line in R.R. Nagar. The party had a running feud with Mr. Munirathna when he was a Congress leader and poll opponent for a long time.

In fact, the announcement of ticket for Mr. Munirathna came only after the Supreme Court rejected a plea by Mr. Gowda challenging the Karnataka High Court’s order rejecting his election petition against Mr. Munirathna.

‘Inevitable’

Defending the selection of candidates, a prominent BJP leader said this choice was “inevitable” as the party did not have strong candidates from its own cadre. He sought to remind those critical of the choice that the party was trying to make inroads in these two constituencies where its rivals have a strong voter base.

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