The Congress’s primary election in the Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency is expected to be a damp squib, much to the pleasure of the party stalwart and former Union Minister B. Janardhana Poojary as the nomination of the other serious contender, Harsha Moily, son of Union Minister M. Veerappa Moily, has been rejected.
It is a different ball game in the Bangalore North constituency where the other primary election is scheduled. There are many keen contestants, including former Ministers. While the primary in Dakshina Kannada is on March 9, the one in Bangalore North is on March 13.
While three candidates — Mr. Poojary, Mr. Harsha Moily and U. Kanachur Monu — filed their nomination papers to contest from Dakshina Kannada, the papers of Mr. Harsha Moily have been rejected on the ground that he is not a social worker, a criterion prescribed by the All India Congress Committee to be in the fray. Mr. Poojary, a former Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president, has to now face Mr. Monu, who is regarded as a minor challenger, although he is the vice- president of the party’s State minority cell.
There are at least 11 Congress ticket aspirants in Bangalore North. Although the names of C. Narayanaswamy (who joined the Congress from the JD(S) recently), Krishna Byre Gowda (Agriculture Minister), M.V. Rajeev Gowda (IIMB professor), B.L. Shankar (former MP and KPCC spokesperson), K.C. Ramamurthy (former Inspector-General of Police) and G.C. Chandrashekhar (political secretary to the KPCC president) were doing the rounds till recently, new names are popping up with every passing day. These include Kengal Shreepada Renu (grandson of Kengal Hanumanthaiya), Nehaa S. Patil (an IIM Lucknow alumnus), Aarti Krishna (daughter of the former Minister Begane Ramaiah), N.L. Narendra Babu (Mahalakshmi Layout MLA) and Rajanna (party worker from Kamakshipalya).
Party insiders said that conducting internal polls was just to shortlist the candidates and the final choice would be made by the Central Election Committee of the party, irrespective of who wins the primaries. Congress Returning Officer for Bangalore North Nitin Kumbalkar said that the counting of votes would happen just after the voting and the result would be announced at the venue itself. “The Central Election Committee will only officially announce the candidature of the winner,” he said.
Party workers, however, said that given the limited electorate for the primaries — it was about 600 in Dakshina Kannada and almost the same in Bangalore North — it was not just enough to win the primaries.