Hema Malini files RS nomination, kicks up "outsider-local" row

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Bangalore,Feb 21 (PTI) Hotting up the poll scene andtriggering an ''outsider-local'' debate, actress Hema Malinitoday entered the fray from Karnataka for the lone Rajya Sabhaseat as a combined opposition supported noted writer KMarulasiddappa''s candidature invoking the ''Kannada pride.''

Minutes after Hema Malini filed her nomination as a BJPcandidate for the March three poll, the eminent Kannada writerfiled his papers as an independent backed by Congress andJD(S).

Hema Malini''s entry has kicked up the"outsider-versus-local" debate in some quarters and reportedlyleft a section of ruling BJP''s state unit unhappy. Theopposition''s move is seen as an attempt to take advantage ofthe sentiment.

"The pride of Kannada land needs to be upheld", saidLeader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah (Congress), who wasaccompanied by KPCC President G Parameshwara and JDS leader HD Revanna, as Marulasiddappa filed nomination before ReturingOfficer S B Patil at the state secretariat.

Earlier, accompanied by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappaand BJP Karnataka President K S Eshwarappa, Hema Malini filedher papers and later thanked the party''s state unit for givingher the opportunity. She said she would serve Karnataka andput in her best efforts in this regard.

On her choice reportedly angering a section of the party,she said that on occasions of lot of happiness, some angergoes hand-in-hand but added she has not annoyed anybody andhas made many people happy (by filing nominations).

Marulasiddappa, a former Chairman of Karnataka NatakaAcademy, said he has been urged to contest by well-wishers,friends, Congress and JD(S) as "a symbol of Kannada pride".

He said those from outside Karnataka are getting electedto Rajya Sabha from Karnataka.

Supporting Hema Malini''s candidature, Yeddyurappaexpressed the hope that she would be useful to advanceKarnataka''s cause in Rajya Sabha. Her choice was made by theparty''s central leadership, he pointed out.

Eshwarappa slammed critics who sought to project HemaMalini as an "outsider".

"She is an artiste and a national asset, like LataMangeshkar and Bhimsen Joshi. Trying to bracket them on thebasis of state, language and caste, is not good. To send HemaMalini to Rajya Sabha from Karnataka itself is a proundmoment", he said.

Before the surprise announcement of her candidature, thename of former Union Minister of State for Finance, VDhananjaya Kumar, who is the Special Representative ofKarnataka in New Delhi, was doing the rounds.

BJP''s strength in the assembly is sure to ensure HemaMalini''s victory.

The bye-election was caused by the death of former UnionMinister M Rajasekhara Murthy. The winning candidate''s termwould end on April two next year.

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