Cong pits Hegde's daughter against Kumaraswamy

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Bangalore, Apr 23 (UNI) The Congress in Karnataka sprang a surprise by deciding to field Mamatha Nichani, daughter of Former Karnataka Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde and a bete noire of Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, from Ramanagaram Assembly constituency where JD(S) Leader and Former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy is seeking re- election.

The Congress High Command, which had kept the name of the party candidate for the seat, a guarded secret till the last minute, announced the candidature at the eleventh hour. The last day of nominations for the first phase of election has ended today.

The Congress was nursing a grouse against Mr Kumaraswamy for toppling the first ever coalition government in February 2006.

In a coup of sorts, Mr Kumaraswamy took with him a large chunk of JD(S) legislators and tied-up with BJP and formed another coalition government.

He led the party legislators 'revolt' and made the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, led by Mr N Dharam Singh, fell.

Later, he again refused to honour political pact with BJP and handed over power to it for the remaining of 20 months, in October 2007 , which led to the fall of the first ever BJP-led government in the South.

Mr Kumaraswamy also thwarted Congress attempt to come back to power taking support of M P Prakash Group in JD(S) by extending olive branch again to the BJP only to withdraw it, again forcing the dissolution of Karnataka Assembly and imposition of President's rule in the State.

With the announcement of the three-phase election to Karnataka Assembly in May, the Former Chief Minister filed his nomination papers seeking re-election from Ramanagaram Constituency.

While BJP had announced local leader Rudresh as its nominee, the Congress had maintained secrecy about its contestant's name and announced to the surprise of all the name of Ms Nichani, a political novice.

Former Legislator C M Lingappa, who got elected from Ramanagaram in the past, had also filed his nomination papers.

However, he had not submitted party's official 'B' form paving the way for Ms Nichani to be the Congress candidate.

The decision of Congress to field her has created ripples in the JD(S) circle. The Congress seems to have favoured riding on the popularity of Former Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde, who had passed away four years ago, to make Mr Kumaraswamy bite the dust.

Ironically, the Congress chose Ms Nichani, whose father was instrumental in the formation of first-ever non-Congress Government in Karnataka in 1983. He repeated it again in 1985.

UNI MV RS GL KP1637

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