Congress rehabilitates Margaret Alva


Bangalore : The Congress Tuesday chose Margaret Alva to fight the Lok Sabha poll from Uttara Kannada constituency in Karnataka, five months after sacking her as general secretary for claiming that party tickets were sold during last year’s assembly elections in the southern state.

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The Congress also sprang a surprise by fielding Karnataka youth Congress president C. Krishna Byre Gowda against Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar from Bangalore South constituency.

Besides Alva, another veteran to bag the party nomination was former chief minister and AICC media department head M. Veerappa Moily who will contest from Chikballapur.

The party is yet to finalise its nominee for Mandya as sitting Lok Sabha member and Kannada film actor M.H. Ambareesh is keeping the leadership on tenterhooks by showing an inclination to either return to the Janata Dal-Secular party or cross over to BJP.

Alva, who wanted one of her sons to be given the Congress ticket to fight in the May 2008 assembly polls in Karnataka, charged in November that the party failed to recapture power in the state as money had changed hands in ticket distribution.

Congress won 80 of the 225 (including one nominated) seats in the assembly and BJP came to power for the first time in the south by bagging 110 seats. It took the help of six independents to gain majority and form the government.

Within days of her levelling the charge, Alva was forced to quit as party general secretary.

Besides Alva, Prashant Deshpande, son of Karnataka Congress chief R.V. Deshpande, was a strong contender for the party nomination from Uttara Kannada seat.

Krishna Byre Gowda, who has a post-graduation degree in International Affairs from American University, Washington, is now a member of the Karnataka assembly.

For him, the nomination is like a birthday gift as he completes 36 years on April 4, the last day for filing of nomination for the first phase poll on April 23. Bangalore South is among the 17 constituencies that will have voting on April 23.

His main rival will be Ananth Kumar who is seeking re-election for the fifth time in a row. Also in the field is low airfare pioneer Capt. G.R. Gopinath who is contesting as an Independent candidate. JDS has fielded an educationist, K.E. Radhakrishna, a retired professor of English, who will be contesting the election for the first time.

For the January 1940-born Veerappa Moily, this will be his third attempt to enter Lok Sabha. He was defeated in the last two attempts by BJP candidates, first time in 1998 in Chikmagalur and in 2004 in Mangalore.

Chikaballapur, about 60 kms from Bangalore, has been held by R.L. Jalappa of Congress since 1996.

Alva, 67, is also contesting for the third time. She won from Kanara (as Uttara Kannada constituency was known) in 1999 but lost in 2004.