Valmiki community holds key to success in Bellary Rural

Valmiki community holds key to success in Bellary Rural

The votes of the dominant Valmiki (ST) community will decide the fate of mining baron B Nagendra of the Congress and BJP candidate Sanna Fakirappa (both from the same community) in Bellary Rural.

Despite being localites, Nagendra and Fakirappa had never tried their luck on their home turf. Nagendra had won from Kudligi (ST) Assembly constituency twice – in 2008 on the BJP ticket and then in 2013 as an independent. Fakirappa had won the parliamentary election in 2009 from Raichur.

Now, they are pitted against each other on their home turfs. Nagendra enjoys a tremendous clout among Valmikis, which almost matches that of former minister B Sriramulu who is considered an unsurpassed leader of the community.

Sriramulu has held the Bellary Rural seat thrice. He won the constituency on the BJP ticket in 2008. Three years later, he quit the party and the seat after not getting a Cabinet berth in the D V Sadananda Gowda ministry. In the 2011 by-polls, he won from the constituency as an independent with a stunning 46,970 vote margin on the issue of ‘personal pride’. He then floated his own party - the BSR Congress and won in 2013. Sriramulu rejoined the saffron fold and successfully contested the Ballari Lok Sabha polls in 2014.

In the by-elections that ensued, the Congress came to power and ensured the victory of its candidate N Y Gopalakrishna.

This time, Sriramulu is contesting from Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district as part of the BJP’s strategy to win maximum number of ST reserved constituencies in the state. The BJP ticket has been given to Fakirappa, who happens to be Sriramulu’s uncle.

The support of Muslims to Nagendra, who has several cases of illegal mining against him, could turn the tide in his favour.

The BJP camp is of the opinion that the Muslim vote share will be compensated by a large number of Lingayat-Reddy-Kamma voters, who the party is confident will vote for the BJP.

Valmiki votes, however, will be the deciding factor. It is hoped that the voter fatigue has not set in among the voters of Bellary Rural. For this is the fifth Assembly elections in the last 10 years (2008, 2013 polls and two bypolls in 2011, 2014).