Mangaluru, Mar 19, 2019: Under pressure to win the Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency, which is being held by the Bharatiya Janata Party for nearly for three decades, the Congress is in a dilemma to choose the winnable candidate from among five contenders.
The former district in-charge Minister and party strongman B. Ramanath Rai is the frontrunner among the five, having sounded the poll bugle as early as January when he launched a paadayaatra demanding speedy completion of four-laning of Mangaluru–Bengaluru National Highway 75 between B.C. Road and Addahole.
Though education entrepreneur Kanachur Monu and the former MLA for Mangaluru North B.A. Mohiuddin Bava threw their hat in the ring, their names were not included in the list recommended by the District Congress Committee. Names of Mr. Rai, former the Minister Vinay Kumar Sorake, Rajya Sabha member B.K. Hariprasad, district Youth Congress president Mithun Rai and SCDCC Bank president M.N. Rajendra Kumar were recommended to the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee and in turn to the Central Election Committee (CEC), said district Congress president K. Harish Kumar.
Mr. Kumar told The Hindu that the CEC was expected to finalise candidates on Tuesday or at least it would short-list two names and the final scenario would be known by March 23. Asked about the inclusion of Mr. Rajendra Kumar, who had not been a full-time Congress worker, the DCC president said his name was proposed by a few leaders during a recent selection meeting.
Senior Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary had recently threatened to contest as an Independent if the Congress fielded Mr. Rajendra Kumar.
While both the Rais hail from the strong Bunt community in the district, Mr. Sorake and Mr. Hariprasad belong to the Billava community that has a large presence in the region. Mr. Rajendra Kumar is a Jain. The contenders, who have good connections with party leadership are said to be making every effort to secure ticket.
Mr. Harish Kumar said notwithstanding finalisation of candidates, the party has commenced the groundwork ahead of the polls. Extensive meetings of booth-level committees and office-bearers are being conducted even as party workers have started mass contact programme.
The party is geared up to launch the formal campaign once the candidate is finalised, the DCC president said.