Bangalore: When the Congress high command released its first list of candidates on Saturday evening, it had the names of all sitting MPs from Karnataka except Petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily.
Moily is a sitting MP from Chikballapur, 50 kilometres north of Bangalore. The minute after the Congress list was announced, rumours started flying thick and fast in the political circles of the state that he is being dropped. The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dr. G Parameshwar clarified soon that Moily's name would be in the second list.
According to some Congress sources, Moily is hesitant to contest from Chikballapur as he knows that the contest would be very tough this time.
There are reports that Telugu cinema star and union tourism minister Chiranjeevi is likely to contest from the seat instead of Moily.
Chikballapur is close to Andhra Pradesh border and has a large number of Telugu speakers. In 2009, Moily won from Chikballapur because of the then chief minister, YSR Reddy's backing. Reddy had extensively campaigned for him.
The opposition BJP has already fielded a local strongman and former Karnataka minister BN Bachche Gowda. The JDS is likely to field former CM HD Kumaraswamy's wife Anitha Kumaraswamy from the same seat. State Congress sources claim that Moily is not interested in taking on very strong opponents.
They add that Moily is eyeing a Rajya Sabha seat from the state in July. Four Rajya Sabha seats will fall vacant from Karnataka in July this year.
Moily's son Harsha's nomination for Dakshina Kannada primary was rejected on the grounds that he is not a social activist.
Moily has refused to comment.