Saffron party faces an uphill task

Saffron party faces an uphill task

While finding a suitable candidate itself is a challenge, the party also has to rope in former chief minister Yeddyurappa to campaign for the candidate.

The BJP had been firm that it would field its candidate, if Sriramulu decided not to contest the bypoll on a BJP ticket. At the same time, there is apprehension in BJP circles that the State government may face instability, if the party loses the support of Sriramulu’s camp having nine MLAs.

The BJP Election Committee which was scheduled to meet on Wednesday to select the party’s candidate for the bypoll could not meet till late in the evening. A section in the party believes that Sriramulu can be won back if he wins the bypoll. A defeated Sriramulu can be more dangerous given the clout he commands over his supporters. At least four BJP MLAs accompanied Sriramulu when he went to file his papers on Wednesday.

Probable candidates

Sources said the party may zero in on Gadi Lingappa, a former zilla panchayat president as its candidate. Lingappa, who also hails from Sriramulu’s Valmiki community, is popular in the constituency.

As a backup measure, the party has instructed three other candidates to file their papers. These include MLC Siddaraju, party national ST Morcha Secretary Nagendra Kumar and State ST Morcha President Ashok Kumar. However, the candidate who gets the ‘B’ form will be declared its official candidate. 

Minister for Municipal Administration Balachandra Jarkiholi, who is the Bellary district incharge minister, has been made party election in-charge for the bypoll.

Eshwarappa held a meeting with Jarkiholi and others to assess prospects for the party without Sriramulu. The BJP had deputed two teams to persuade Sriramulu to contest on the party ticket.

But the Bellary leader, after consulting Janardhana Reddy and his supporters, decided to disassociate himself from the party. Initially, BJP State President K S Eshwarappa tried to put up a brave front on the Bellary developments by stating that he would not hesitate to expel Sriramulu from the party if the latter filed his nomination papers as an independent.  In the afternoon, Sriramulu filed his papers as an independent, rendering the question of expulsion infructuous.

Police officers transferred

The following seven police officers working in Bellary Rural and Urban areas for the past several years have been transferred in the backdrop of the bypoll: Hanumesh (DySP, Bellary city); Babu Kolekar (DySP, Bellary Rural); Bhaskar Rai (Inspector, Brucepet station); Girish Bhojannavar (Inspector, Cowl Bazaar); S S Hullur (Inspector, Rural police); Rudrappa (sub-inspector, Kowl Bazaar); and Venkatesh (Inspector, crime, Rural police).