CM's move to induct 'tainted' BJP MLA irks Ballari Congmen

Discontentment among a section of ruling party leaders is brewing in Ballari district over Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's move to woo BJP MLA from Vijayanagara (Hosapete) B Anand Singh, an accused in mining scam, ahead of the Assembly elections.

A section of party leaders in the mineral-rich district is said to be opposing Singh's entry into the Congress, mainly due to his association with the Reddy brothers of the BJP in the past. Singh, who was Tourism minister in Jagadish Shettar government, was a close associate of former minister and mining baron G Janardhana Reddy.

Singh has now distanced himself from the BJP, especially after defying the party diktat and taking part in Tipu Jayanti organised by the government in Hosapete a few months ago.

The ruling party is facing an upheaval at a time when preparations are being made for the three-day state visit of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

He is scheduled to kickstart his election campaign from Hosapete on February 10. The plan is to induct Singh during Rahul's visit.

The Vijayanagara MLA had recently met the chief minister in Bengaluru to finalise the plan. It is feared that many of the disgruntled Congress leaders may stay off Rahul's event if the party fails to pacify them.

The Congress leaders who had fought against illegal mining in Ballari during the previous BJP governments are of the view that the party will face embarrassment if Singh is inducted into the party. "Singh is still facing charges of illegal mining. The party will have a lot of answering to do in the election runup on the illegal mining issue," senior party leaders from Ballari, who refused to be quoted, said.

Many aspirants

Besides, the party has many aspirants to contest from the Vijayanagara constituency. They include senior leader
H Abdul Wahab, H R Gaviyappa and Praveen Singh.

The Congress will be neglecting the local leaders who have strived to strengthen the party over the years. Moreover, Siddaramaiah has not taken any of the local leaders into confidence on inducting Singh into the party, the leaders complained.

Siddaramaiah, it is said, wooing Singh as the Congress lacks potential candidates in the constituency. Ditto is the case with Kudligi MLA (Independent) B Nagendra. The Congress is poaching MLAs from the Opposition parties who have the potential to win the election, sources close to the chief minister said.

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