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‘Homecoming’ for Harikrishna Bantwal next month

9:52 AM, Tuesday, October 24th, 2017
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harikrishna bantwalMangaluru: Political realignments have begun in Dakshina Kannada in the run-up to next year’s Assembly elections with Harikrishna Bantwal, a close confidant of senior Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary and a Billava community leader, set to join the BJP here next month. Once inducted the BJP is likely to field him as a candidate from any of the Assembly constituencies in the district.

After about a three-decade stint with the Congress it will be “homecoming” for the 66-year-old as he was associated with the Sangh Parivar four decades ago. Mr. Bantwal began his public life as an RSS activist in 1972 and was the general secretary of Bantwal unit of the BJP in 1981.

He was to contest as the BJP candidate from Bantwal in 1983 Assembly elections. But putting his candidature on hold the BJP issued the ticket to N. Shiva Rao, a party hopper from the Congress, who won. The BJP reportedly denied the ticket to Mr. Bantwal on caste grounds as it had fielded two other Billava community leaders K. Vasantha Bangera from Belthangady and A Rukmayya Poojary from the erstwhile Vitla constituencies in the same elections. Both won the elections.

Sources said that the party was not ready to field the third candidate from the same community. This made him to quit the Sangha Parivar to join the Congress and remain a trusted man of Mr. Poojary.

Mr. Bantwal was a former spokesperson of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) and a former general secretary of Dakshina Kannada District Congress Committee (DCC).

He contested as a rebel candidate in the 2015 Legislative Council elections from local bodies’ constituencies in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi after the Congress denied him the ticket and instead chose to field K. Pratapchandra Shetty. Following this the Congress expelled him from the party.

Mr. Bantwal told The Hindu that he would join the BJP in its ‘parivarthana rally’ in Kuloor here on November 10. Confirming it, Sanjeeva Matandoor, president, Dakshina Kannada unit of the BJP said that B.S. Yeddyurappa, State president of the party, would be present on the occasion.

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