JD(S) revival hinges on Sriramulu's win

The byelection, necessitated following former BJP minister B Sriramulu's resignation, has thrown up an opportunity to the party to spread its wings to the northern part of the State. Presently, the JD(S)' influence is largely confined to the few districts of the old Mysore region.

Soon after Sriramulu took his parent party, the BJP, head-on and decided to contest the bypoll as an Independent candidate, the State JD(S) led by former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy decided to indirectly support him. This despite Sriramulu being a close associate of mining scam-hit Janardhana Reddy, who had made a Rs-150 crore bribery allegation against Kumaraswamy.

While Kumaraswamy and his father - party national president H D Deve Gowda - have denied that the party was backing Sriramulu, the party MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan campaigned for Sriramulu in the constituency. Kumaraswamy also called upon his party workers in the constituency to support any Independent candidate in order to defeat the BJP and the Congress.

According to sources, the party is trying to cosy up with Sriramulu, a popular leader among the dominant ST community in many districts of north Karnataka, including Bellary.
By doing so, the JD(S) not only wants to be in the good books of the community, but lure the BJP MLAs of the community, especially those who are openly supporting Sriramulu in the bypoll. The JD(S) does not have a strong leader from the community in the region.

Sriramulu, it is said, commands control over nearly a dozen BJP MLAs in and around Bellary. Many more community MLAs from the BJP may join hands with him if he wins the bypoll with a huge margin. The JD(S), which has been making efforts to end what it calls the misrule of the BJP, would get an opportunity to accomplish the task with the help of Sriramulu, party sources said.

But, the sources said, Sriramulu's joining the party was very unlikely. If he floats a new political outfit, which is mostly likely to happen after the bypoll, the JD(S) would have an alliance with it. As far as his bete noire Janardhana Reddy is concerned, Kumaraswamy, sources said, knows fully well that the former minister, who is presently in jail on serious charges of illegal mining, would not be able to return to active politics for some time now.

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