Many defeated Cong. candidates keen to contest Assembly polls

Recent electoral victories have infused a renewed confidence in them

Many Congress leaders, who were defeated in the previous Lok Sabha elections, are keen to contest the State Legislative Assembly elections in 2023. This has been spurred by the upbeat mood in the party after victories in the byelection in Hangal and in the 11 Council seats recently, even while being in the Opposition.

Some senior Congress leaders’ statements that the electorate of the State is yearning for a change of government in 2023 has provided confidence among the party cadre. Sources in the party said leaders such as KPCC working president R. Dhruvanarayana, former Ministers Praksh Hukkeri and Vinay Kulkarni, and several others including Mithun Rai, Prashanth Deshpande, and B.N. Chandrappa, who contested and were defeated in the previous Lok Sabha polls, have expressed their desire for tickets to 2023 Assembly elections.

Sources in Congress said Mr. Dhruvanarayana has chalked out a plan to contest from Nanjangud Assembly segment. B. Harshavardhan of the BJP won this reserved constituency in 2018. V. Srinivas Prasad, BJP MP, who was then in the Congress, won this seat in the 2008 and 2013 Assembly elections.

Mr. Hukkeri, Congress leader in Belagavi, plans to enter the electoral fray in 2023 from Athani constituency. Mahesh Kumathalli of the Congress won this seat in 2018 but he quit the party and joined the BJP along with 14 other Congress legislators in 2019. In the byelections, he won again. With the Congress having no other winnable candidates, Mr. Hukkeri is planning to contest from this constituency.

Mr. Rai, who contested from the Dakshina Kannada constituency and lost to BJP State president Nalin Kumar Kateel in 2019, is eyeing one of the Assembly constituencies in the district, sources said.

Newly joined leaders

Leaders who left the Janata Dal (Secular) and joined the Congress too are hoping for Assembly election tickets.

Former MLAs Madhu Bangarappa, M.S. Akki, N.H. Konaraddi, former MLCs Ramesh Babu, C.R Manohar (all JD-S), and incumbent MLC N. Narayana Swamy (Congress) are eyeing the party ticket to contest Assembly polls.

Kanthraj (BML), JD(S) MLC from Tumakuru, whose term will end next month, and JD(S) MLAs S.R. Srinivas (Gubbi), G.T. Deve Gowda (Chamundeshwari), and K. Srinivas Gowda (Kolar), reportedly plan to quit the JD(S) to join the Congress with the condition that Assembly ticket to be guaranteed to them in 2023, party sources said.

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