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Curious Case Of 2 'Banned-Entry' Candidates In Karnataka Assembly Polls

The jurisdictional Special Court in Bengaluru had rejected his request requesting entry, after which he had approached the High Court where his petition was dismissed by Justice K Natarajan on Friday. 

Karnataka polls: Candidates file nomination
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Two "banned-entry" candidates Vinay Kulkarni and G Janardhana Reddy present a picture of a peculiar case in the run-up to the May 10 Karnataka Assembly elections. While the Congress candidate Kulkarni can't go to Dharwad, the constituency he is contesting from, following a court-imposed ban, Reddy fielded his wife in Ballari city as he is barred from entry there. 

Kulkarni's wife Shivaleela filed the nomination on his behalf. "Our supporters are backing us with a firm belief that 'Saheb' will come here. In his absence I am seeking the blessings of the voters asking them treat me as 'Saheb'," she told reporters. 

Since video and phone calls are the only means to reach out to his voters, Kulkarni in a video message said, "I will immerse myself for you and my constituency. You are my strength who backed me today." Former Minister Kulkarni was arrested and remanded to judicial custody in November 2020 in connection with the murder of BJP leader and Zilla Panchayat member Yogeshgouda Goudar in June 2016. 

He was granted bail by the Supreme Court on the condition that he would not be allowed to enter Dharwad, the district known as cultural capital of Karnataka  as it produced acclaimed literatteurs and music maestros, without the permission of the jurisdictional court. 

The jurisdictional Special Court in Bengaluru had rejected his request requesting entry, after which he had approached the High Court where his petition was dismissed by Justice K Natarajan on Friday. 

Kulkarni's advocate had argued that he needs to be in the constituency to campaign. The HC observed that the party, which gave him ticket to contest, should have known that he was forbidden by the court from entering Dharwad. The case of former mining baron Janardhana Reddy of the famed 'Reddy brothers of Ballari' is not much different compared to Kulkarni. 

A former BJP minister, Reddy has been barred by the apex court from entering Ballari in Karnataka and Anantapur and YSR Kadapa districts in Andhra Pradesh in connection with illegal mining case. Reddy had severed ties with the BJP and floated a new party Kalyana Rajya Pragathi Paksha (KRPP). His brothers G Karunakara Reddy and G Somashekhara Reddy are with the BJP and are contesting from Ballari City and Harapanahalli, respectively, on the party ticket. 

Since he is not allowed to enter Ballari, Reddy chose to contest from neighbouring Gangavathi in Koppal district. The KRPP leader has fielded his wife Lakshmi Aruna G from Ballari City constituency against his brother Somashekhara Reddy. Lakshmi Aruna was in tears on the day of filing her nomination papers as she missed her husband, who could not accompany  her. 

She sought the blessings of voters to complete the projects such as ring road, airport, superspecialty hospital and drinking water, which Janardhana Reddy had started but "halted midway." Janardhana Reddy said: "I am concentrating only in those constituencies wherever I have the scope of winning the election. My target is to win 20 to 28 seats. I am building party at the booth level with the available strength," he had told reporters. Barred entry, Reddy cannot canvass for his wife or any other candidates that the party has fielded in Ballari district it considers as its stronghold.

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