Bellary (Karnataka), Aug 1:
About 100 Congress workers Friday ransacked their party office here after their local leaders were denied ticket to contest in a by-election in the state.
The by-poll in question is to be held Aug 21 in the Bellary Rural assembly segment, 310 km from Bangalore.
In what appeared to be a pre-meditated move, local television channels were alerted to telecast live the ruckus as party workers and supporters of local leaders broke into the office in a rented premises, smashed window panes, a television flat screen mounted on a wall, flower pots and furniture and tore posters and banners stuck on walls.
“Our workers and supporters of local leaders are upset with the party’s choice to field N.Y. Gopalakrishna for the by-poll, as he is an outsider and a former lawmaker from Molakalmuru in the neighbouring Chitradurga district,” a party official told IANS.
The by-election was necessitated by the resignation of former BJP minister B.R. Sriramulu from the reserved constituency following his election from the Bellary reserved (ST) parliamentary constituency in the general elections.
With Saturday being the last date for filing nominations, the ruling party’s state unit president G. Parameshwara and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were under pressure to nominate one of the local leaders, with as many as 19 of them in the race for the elusive ticket.
“In spite of conveying our strong feelings against nominating Gopalakrishna, Parameshwara and Siddaramaiah have recommended him for approval to the high command ignoring local leaders,” the office-bearer in the party’s district unit said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi won from the Bellary Lok Sabha seat in October 1999 mid-term polls, defeating the then BJP candidate and present External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
The ruling party also short-listed Ganesh Hukkeri to contest from the Chikkodi-Sadalga assembly segment in the state’s northern region and Shantahaveerappa Gowda from the Shikaripura assembly constituency in the state’s Malnad region, where by-polls will be held on the same day (Aug 21).
Ganesh Hukkeri is son of former Congress minister Prakash Hukkeri, who resigned the Chikkodi seat after winning in the recent polls from the Chikkodi parliamentary constituency.
The Shikaripura assembly seat fell vacant following the election of former BJP chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa from the Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency.
The opposition BJP has already selected its nominees for the three by-elections, while the regional Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) has decided not to enter the contest.
The BJP’s nominees are Mahantesh Kavatagimath from Chikkodi, Obalesh from Bellary Rural and B.Y. Raghavendra from Shikaripura.
Raghavendra, son of Yeddyurappa, represented the Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency in the previous term (2009-14).