BENGALURU: By choosing Eranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti as Rajya Sabha candidates from Karnataka, the BJP high command not only surprised the party unit on Monday, but also sent a strong message to its cadre, especially after many newcomers were made ministers.Kadadi (54) has been associated with the BJP for three decades in Belagavi, and is now in-charge of the region. Ashok Gasti (55), an advocate, started his journey as an ABVP worker and is in-charge of Ballari region. Both Kadadi and Gasti have a strong RSS base and are backed by BJP General Secretary B L Santhosh, sources in the party said.
Union Minister Pralhad Joshi told TNIE that by choosing Kadadi and Gasti, BJP has shown that it values its party workers. “We are conveying the message that our party is cadre-based and party workers will get their due. This is the power and beauty of democracy. It was decided by our party leaders, including party president JP Nadda and Amit Shah, who encourage fresh blood in the party as well as in both Houses of Parliament,” he said.
Asked if the party was interested in fielding a third candidate, Joshi said they can win two seats comfortably. “For the third seat, we need more votes, and we have hardly 26 as against 45,’’ he said.
Kore, who served as two-time Rajya Sabha MP representing Karnataka, missed a hat-trick, though his name was recommended by the BJP State Core Committee.
A senior BJP leader, on condition of anonymity, said, “In our party, very few get a ticket twice, and even fewer get it thrice, like late Union Minister Arun Jaitley and Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, otherwise it’s clear that candidates do not get a second term. We don’t have any negative feedback on giving the ticket to Kore, but this was the message given by our party leaders.’’Minister KS Eshwarappa said that this is how BJP functions. “Only in the BJP, a party worker can become a minister, or a Rajya Sabha member or can take a higher post,’’ he added.
When a party leader from Vijayapura broke the news over the phone to Eranna Kadadi, he initially dismissed it as fake news. “When he told me I was chosen by the party, I told him it may be fake news. Actually, I had demanded a Legislative Council seat and never expected a Rajya Sabha ticket,’’ he said. On former MP Ramesh Katti and sitting RS member Prabhakar Kore lobbying for the ticket, Kadadi said that they were his leaders in Belagavi district and he was their follower.
“I welcome the party’s decision to recognise deserving party workers at the grassroots for the Rajya Sabha tickets. The party has sent a clear signal that it will identify these workers. Although I too was an aspirant for the ticket, I am happy and will support Kadadi and Gasti in the coming days,’’ said Ramesh Katti.
A counter in Jarkiholi turf Eranna Kadadi (54)
A low-profile party worker, Kadadi started as Yuva Morcha president for Arabhavi assembly segment in Belagavi, later became president of Gokak taluk BJP unit in Belagavi, and was elevated as Belagavi BJP unit president. He also served as BJP State Secretary. At present, he is in-charge of Belagavi region, that includes Belagavi, Chikkodi, Bagalkot, Vijayapura and other places. In 1994, he had contested from Arabhavi assembly election and lost to VS Koujalgi of the Congress. In 2010, he was elected Zilla Panchayat president, and had recently met CM Yediyurappa to seek an MLC seat. He is a known figure in Arabhavi and Gokak assembly constituencies, the stronghold of Balachandra and Ramesh Jarkiholi. With his choice, the high command appears to be grooming a new leader in the Jarkiholi fort.
Backward Class face in RS Ashok Gasti (55)
Gasti hails from Lingasugur in Raichur. As a college student in 1982, he was part of an 18-day protest against corruption, and saw it through to its logical end. He was a councillor in the Ballari Municipal Corporation in 2001, and has served in various wings of the BJP, including the advocate wing and youth wing. Gasti represents the Savitha (barber) community, and is probably the first person from his community to enter the Rajya Sabha. He has also served as BJP Backward Class Morcha secretary, and chairman of the State Backward Classes Commission.