CM Yediyurappa defers new district plan amid rift

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa was on Wednesday forced to defer deciding on the contentious proposal to create a new Vijayanagar district out of Ballari as those for and against it hardened their stand at a meeting he had convened. 

Yediyurappa, who met elected representatives cutting across parties from Ballari district, decided to revisit the proposal after the December 5 bypolls. 

The issue has become a hot potato for Yediyurappa with BJP legislators from Ballari threatening to revolt if their district was split.

“Some said a smaller district will help administration whereas some said (Ballari) should remain united,” Revenue Minister R Ashoka said. “But since bypolls are coming up, it was decided to defer the meeting.”

According to sources, the Reddy brothers — G Somashekhar Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy — along with other BJP leaders from Ballari asked the CM to drop the idea while hitting out at Congress’ Anand Singh, who is demanding the new district. 

It is said that Singh and Somashekhar locked horns in a heated verbal duel. Some even questioned Singh’s presence in the meeting as he is a disqualified MLA. 

The mining district of Ballari is politically significant, comprising nine Assembly segments of which the Congress won five and the BJP four in the 2018 Assembly polls. The Reddy brothers, it is said, are afraid that their clout will diminish if the district is split. For Singh, however, the new district could become a plank to face the bypolls. 

Ballari currently is made up of 11 taluks. The plan is that six of them — Hosapete, Kampli, Hagaribommanahalli, Kottur, Hadagali and Harapanahalli — will make up the new Vijayanagar district, with Hosapete as its headquarters.

The other five — Ballari, Kurugodu, Siruguppa, Sandur and Kudligi — will remain with Ballari. This means the Unesco world heritage site of Hampi will go to the new district. 

Apparently, the Congress legislators also opposed the idea of a new district, but were ready to agree only if their respective taluks (constituencies they represent) were made the headquarters. This is said to have added to Yediyurappa quandary. 

“It was opined that no decision should be taken in a hurry. But my fight for the new district will continue,” Singh told reporters.

“I won’t say what happened inside the meeting. All I can say is the CM heard us all and decided that the meeting was deferred,” Health Minister B Sreeramulu, a native of Ballari, told reporters.

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