BJP has come full circle in Bellary

The party is working overtime to wrest the district from the Reddys and Sriramulu

Now, the party is banking on the leader to defeat B Sriramulu, its former MLA and close aide of the Reddys.

Sriramulu has dropped the lotus to hold a fan. He is literally holding a fan in hand and moving around the constituency to drive home the point to his voters that his symbol has changed. He has a huge fan following in his well-nurtured Assembly constituency - Bellary Rural, which is reserved for the ST category.

Soon after he decided to walk out of the BJP, he closed the BJP office, which was run like a personal office of G Janardhana Reddy, now lodged in the Chanchalguda prison in Hyderabad. The first task of State BJP President K S Eshwarappa, when he stepped into Bellary to campaign for party candidate Gadilingappa, was to open a new BJP office.

Eshwarappa is virtually building the party from scratch.

The BJP is hoping that Yeddyurappa would campaign for the party with his usual vigour at least for three days as announced by him. He, along with Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, should have begun the campaign on Monday. But now, they are scheduled to campaign from Tuesday.  Sources in the Congress said that if Yeddyurappa campaigns full of zest, Lingayat voters (nearly 25,000 in the constituency) may go with the BJP. This has become a worrying factor for the Congress.

In the case of the Congress, which could not do much but just watch the growth of the Reddys in the district in recent years, is struggling to reassert itself. Senior leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, have been criss-crossing the constituency. But it lacks strong local leaders who understand the dynamics of the constituency and who can make Sriramulu and Gadilingappa sweat for each vote.

Diwakar Babu, who has been replaced as the Bellary district Congress president by Anjaneya, is sulking because the candidate of his choice was not fielded for the bypoll. Rajya Sabha member Anil Lad, who has been indicted in the Lokayukta mining report, has stood by Ramprasad, the Congress candidate.

Meanwhile, JD(S) leaders H D Deve Gowda and H D Kumaraswamy are singing different tunes. While Kumaraswamy has no hesitation in supporting Sriramulu, the senior Gowda is expressing some reservation. But MLA Zameer Ahmed, the trusted man of Kumaraswamy, has been visiting Muslim voters in Cowl Bazaar area in the constituency, apparently seeking votes for Sriramulu.

Kumaraswamy’s desperation to support Sriramulu has come as a surprise to even his partymen, because it was Janardhana Reddy who had charged that Kumaraswamy, as chief minister, had collected Rs 150 crore from mine owners.

JD(S) sources said Kumaraswamy was keeping the next Assembly elections in mind while indirectly supporting Sriramulu, who can wield influence over his community voters in at least five districts, besides Bellary.

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