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Aspirants for bypolls in Belagavi LS segment more in BJP

BJP State president Nalin Kumar Kateel toured the district to meet taluk-level leaders and heads of different morchas on Saturday and Sunday

Election Commission of India is yet to announce a byelection to the Belagavi Lok Sabha seat that fell vacant after the death of the former Union Minister Suresh Angadi. Political developments related to the bypoll, however, have begun in the district. The earliest trends suggest that the number of aspirants in the BJP outnumber those in the Congress or the Janata Dal(S).

BJP State president Nalin Kumar Kateel toured the district to meet taluk-level leaders and heads of different morchas on Saturday and Sunday.

However, he told journalists in Belagavi on Saturday that the party would focus on the bypoll only after the ECI announcement.

This is the second time since Angadi’s death that Mr. Kateel is visiting Belagavi. Union Minister Pralhad Joshi also held a meeting of party office-bearers a week ago.

Angadi’s followers and relatives have demanded that the party nominate either his wife or one of his daughters in the elections.

His uncle Lingaraj Patil urged Mr. Kateel to honour Angadi’s memory by giving party ticket to one of his family members.

This is apart from the sympathy factor, he reminded Mr. Kateel. Some in the BJP feel that a Lingayat Banajiga leader should fill the slot held by Angadi in Parliament and if possible, in the Union Council of Ministers.

KLE Society chairman Prabhakar Kore, a member of the Banajiga community, met Mr. Kateel on Saturday and told journalists that he had not retired from politics yet. The former Rajya Sabha member joined the BJP in 2008 after spending decades in the Congress. His Rajya Sabha membership was not renewed when the BJP chose a Sangh Parivar favourite Eeranna Kadadi over him this year.

Lingayat Panchamshali community leaders, including Jaya Mrutyunjay Swami, have demanded that the party nominate a leader from the community if Angadi’s family did not get party ticket.

This would help leaders, including Shankargouda Patil, State’s representative in New Delhi, MLA V.I. Patil, Raju Chikkangoudar, Ravi Patil and Mahantesh Doddagoudar, say party workers.

Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi has spoken to some leaders about fielding his son and KMF director Amarnath Jarkiholi, said one BJP leader. If a Jarkiholi family member gets party ticket, the brothers will work together despite party differences, he said. Mr. Kateel meeting the former MP Amarsinh Patil in Raibag on Sunday led to speculation that the BJP may be planning to field the leader from the Kuruba community to strengthen the backward class vote base in North Karnataka.

The few names doing the rounds in the Congress are that of the former MP Prakash Hukkeri and MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar.

The party could also ask MLAs Satish Jarkiholi or Mahantesh Koujalgi to fight the polls, said a Congress leader.

However, there are not many seeking party nomination. No meeting has been held over this issue at the State or district level till now, he said.

The Janata Dal(S) is yet to see bypoll-related activity, members say. “We are waiting for instructions from senior leaders about the polls. We will choose the best candidate among us and give a proper fight,’’ says Ashfaq Madaki, who fought the Assembly polls unsuccessfully last time.

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