BJP’s surprise Rajya Sabha nominations jolt state unit
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s central command announced the names of two candidates from Karnataka for the Rajya Sabha, bypassing those suggested by the state leadership.
BJP announced that two district-level leaders from northern Karnataka will be its candidates for the Rajya Sabha polls due on June 19. The party’s central command didn’t consider at least three names forwarded by the state unit under Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, instead of going for unknown party workers. This decision has come as a surprise to the opposition, political observers and even the party itself.
On Friday, the state unit which met under the leadership of the chief minister and Karnataka BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel had shortlisted three names from the state for the Rajya Sabha polls. These were hotelier Prakash Shetty, sitting Rajya Sabha MP Prabhakar Kore and Ramesh Katti, the brother of eight-time MLA Umesh Katti. It is understood that the party had also included the names of two vice-presidents and the CM’s political secretary for good measure. This list was then sent to the central command for approval.
On Monday, with only one day left for the nomination papers to be filed, the response came back. None of the names provided were chosen. Instead the party had decided to nominate Eranna Kadadi, a former president of the Belgaum Zilla Panchayat, and Ashok Jasti, the organisation general secretary from Raichur district. Both of them are relatively unknown even among state leaders and the move left many of them confused.
The spin doctors have of course turned this around saying that BJP was rewarding its grassroots workers – instead of businessmen and career politicians – and elevating people who represent significant vote banks. But analysts believe that this was a power move made to tell state party leaders to not take their positions for granted. It is also understood that the RSS is asserting itself through this, indicating it holds more sway on these decisions than the party itself. Both candidates seemed to have been hand-picked by BJP national general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh and Pralhad Joshi, the union minister for parliamentary affairs, both of whom have a long history with the organisation.
Karnataka has four seats in the Rajya Sabha and with BJP’s numbers, it is practically assured that those that get nominated will get the post. This was why there was intense lobbying among aspirants from the state to get on the party list. But this turned out in vain and many have been left disappointed.
For the other two seats, the Congress nominated former Union Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, who lost his Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 general elections. The party is also supporting the nomination of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal (Secular), another surprise entrant because until very recently he had been saying he had no plans for the Rajya Sabha.