With the Congress Central Election Committee meeting to finalise candidates for the Lok Sabha elections from Karnataka drawing near, the competition for a ticket for the Dharwad seat is hotting up.
The meeting is scheduled for February 17. Among the aspirants are Dharwad District Congress president A M Hindasageri, former MP Manjunath Kunnur, Youth Congress leader Mohan Asundi, Dr Mahesh Nalwad, who lost to Jagadish Shettar in the last elections, and Lohit Naikar, son of late leader D K Naikar.
According to Congress sources, the names of Hindasageri, Kunnur and Naikar have been shortlisted by the state screening committee.
It is also said that the party had proposed Dharwad MLA Vinay Kulkarni’s name, though he is not too keen on contesting the elections.
Hindasageri is seeking a ticket under the minority quota.
Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H K Patil is reportedly backing Hindasageri as the latter has been his loyal follower. Though it is being said that there is no major opposition to Hindasageri’s candidature, his chances of getting a ticket mainly depend on who the party will field in the neighbouring constituency of Haveri.
Nehru Yuvaka Kendra director General Saleem Ahmed and D R Patil, H K Patil’s cousin, are vying for a ticket from Haveri.
“If Saleem gets a ticket, then it may be difficult for the party to field two Muslim candidates in the neighbouring segments considering caste equations. If Patil get a ticket, then too Hindasageri stands to lose as the party cannot afford to field two supporters of H K Patil,” said a Congress leader on condition of anonymity.
On the other hand, Kunnur is seeking a ticket on the basis of seniority and caste.
He belongs to the Lingayat community, which forms a major chunk of voters in this constituency.
“I have been in politics since my college days. I have a good reputation and connections. I will get a ticket,” Kunnur told Express.
On his part, Lohit Naikar is also leaving no stone unturned. He is banking on his father’s name and contribution to the party’s growth in this region. His father had represented the constituency four times.
As far as Mohan Asundi and Dr Nalwad are concerned, they are both harping on AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s keenness to infuse young blood in the party.
“Rahul Gandhi is looking for youngsters who have a clean image and good reputation in society. I fit into that category very well. Since I am educated and have the ability to connect with people, I am confident that the party will recognise me and give a ticket,” said Dr Nalwad.