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Under pressure to withdraw case, but will not: BJP leader Gowda

The disqualified Congress MLA from RR Nagar in Bengaluru, may have succeeded in joining the BJP on Thursday, but deep resentment within the BJP and RSS may apply brakes on his electoral ambitions

, ET Bureau|
Nov 15, 2019, 10.34 AM IST
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BENGALURU: Munirathna, the disqualified Congress MLA from RR Nagar in Bengaluru, may have succeeded in joining the BJP on Thursday, but deep resentment within the BJP and RSS may apply brakes on his electoral ambitions.

This was because he turned out to be the most controversial Congress candidate in last year’s Assembly elections inviting attacks from top BJP leaders for what they alleged electoral malpractice. The defeated BJP candidate Muniraju Gowda, also known as Tulasi Muniraju, has challenged Munirathna’s election in the High Court because of which the constituency is not facing bypolls on December 5. Munirathna was among the few Congress candidates the BJP was very bitter about in the runup to the polls last year. The Election Commission postponed polls in the RR Nagar constituency after raids on an apartment in the constituency led to the seizure of 9,564 voter ID cards of locals.

After the ID card haul, the BJP candidate filed a petition in the High Court praying for disqualification of his Congress rival Munirathna on charges of electoral malpractice, and declare him elected, instead. The case is still pending and it is to be seen how the EC is going to deal with the constituency. “There is no way I am going to withdraw the case,” Gowda told ET, sounding firm in his resolve to fight Munirathna. “I have been under immense pressure (from party bosses) to withdraw the case, but there is no question of backing out. Even the local BJP workers want me to continue with my fight,” he said.

Gowda’s words are no music to chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s ears, who has assured party tickets and ministerial berths to 17 disqualified MLAs as a reward for toppling the JD(S)-Congress regime. Yediyurappa is keen to field Munirathna whenever EC declares elections and the party sources say he is making efforts to persuade Gowda to back out.

As part of the efforts to placate Gowda, the CM on Wednesday appointed him as chairman of KSTDC with a ministerial position. Gowda, however, has been "not-reachable" to anyone since the appointment -- an indication that he does not want to budge.

He is firm on stand, say party sources, because of the blessings from leaders not pleased with the ways of the CM. “Gowda will not cede ground even an inch to Munirathna. Party’s national leaders are the only people he may probably listen to,” a party leader said. Muniraju, apparently, enjoys the blessings of sections of senior RSS, BJP and local leaders.

The party is expected to take a call on who it wants to field from RR Nagar only after the EC notifies polls. Until then, it is going to be uncertain for Munirathna, though Yediyurappa has thrown his weight behind him. It may be recalled that when the EC seized voter IDs, the BJP national leaders had attacked Congress and Munirathna.
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