Congress to back Bangarappa against BJP candidate


Bangalore : The Congress in Karnataka has decided to withdraw its candidate from Shikaripura assembly constituency so as not to split secular votes and present undivided opposition to Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial nominee B.S. Yediyurappa in the May 16 election.

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The other major party, Janata Dal-Secular, also is not fielding a candidate in Shikaripura. That leaves Yediyurappa to face former chief minister and state Samajwadi Party chief S. Bangarappa in a virtual direct fight for the seat.

While the JD-S, headed by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, did not nominate a candidate at all, the Congress named a political novice, N. Navalesh, for Shikaripura and later withdrew him.

State Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters here Thursday that Navalesh would be withdrawn to ensure defeat of Yediyurappa. Friday is the last day for withdrawing from the contest.

Yediyurappa lost in Shikaripura, about 290 km from Bangalore, in Shimoga district only once out of the six times he contested the seat. But his opponent this time, Bangarappa, is a strong force in Shimoga and is expected to give him a tough fight.

Bangarappa left the Congress to join the BJP and won the Shimoga Lok Sabha seat on its ticket in 2004. However, he quit the BJP to set up the Karnataka unit of the Samajwadi Party and retained the Lok Sabha seat in a by-poll.