Congress finds fresh face for Bellary LS seat

Congress finds fresh face for Bellary LS seat

File photo for representation.

A dark horse has emerged as a potential Congress candidate for the Bellary Lok Sabha bypoll due to infighting in the party and the absence of a strong candidate, it is now learnt.

The party is said to be considering Nagamani G, a local leader from the dominant Nayaka community, to take on BJP’s J Shantha in the November 3 bypoll. Shantha is the sister of BJP warhorse and Nayaka leader B Sreeramulu.

Nagamani’s name has surfaced in the backdrop of infighting among the six Ballari Congress legislators, especially the five who belong to the ST community.

While Bellary MLA B Nagendra is said to be pushing for his brother Venkatesh Prasad to get the ticket, the other MLAs - backed by the Jarkiholi brothers who have emerged as ST leaders - are opposed to this. They fear that if Prasad wins, or even puts up a good fight, it could bolster Nagendra’s chances of induction into the Cabinet.

The lack of unity among the Ballari MLAs was evident when three of them - J N Ganesh (Kampli), P T Parameshwar Naik (Hadagali) and Anand Singh (Vijaynagar) - did not show up for a meeting to discuss the bypoll. As a result, Ballari district in-charge minister D K Shivakumar, who has been tasked by the party leadership to shortlist candidates, deferred the meeting to Thursday.

“Nobody is insisting on my brother to get the ticket. He’s one of the aspirants. We will work toward the victory of anybody the party chooses to field. The candidate will be chosen unanimously,” Nagendra told reporters.

There are at least about a dozen candidates - mostly unknowns - vying for the Bellary ticket.

Also, sources point out that the ST community in Ballari is divided into two - Myasa Nayakas and Ooru Nayakas. The division was triggered during the May 12 Assembly polls when the BJP chose to field Sreeramulu, a Myasa Nayaka, from the Molakalmuru constituency where local BJP leader S Thippeswamy, an Ooru Nayaka, was the ticket aspirant.

The Ooru Nayakas were said to be upset with the BJP for overlooking Thippeswamy. A section of Congress leaders argues that the party can gain by tapping into this division by fielding Nagamani, an Ooru Nayaka, against Shantha, a Myasa Nayaka.

Furthermore, local party workers from Ballari favour Nagamani because she can be presented as a fresh face with a clean image who does not align with any faction. Nagamani, a postgraduate, is secretary at the Vasavi School in Kudligi.