Two mining tycoons sweat it out in Ballari

BJP ballry candidate Somnashekara Reddy playing cricket with youths during his campaigning at Ballary city on Sunday.

It’s 8 am on Sunday and the cavalcade of BJP candidate for Bellary City Assembly constituency G Somashekara Reddy is slowly winding its way through the various wards of the city. 

Reddy covers Parvathinagar, Gymkhana, holds corner meetings near Kittur Rani Channamma High School Grounds and Municipal College Grounds.

He gets down at several places and heeds to complaints from the locals about the lack of basic amenities in the region. He promises that all the wrongs will be set right if the BJP is voted to power.

He also attempts a few cricket shots at the Gymkhana and interacts with practising sportspersons.Reddy’s supporters point fingers at Congress candidate and sitting MLA of Bellary City Anil H Lad, holding him responsible for the woes of people.

In another part of the historic town, Anil Lad is sipping lemon tea with his supporters at a cafe called ‘5 pm’ and planning his election campaign for the week.

He spends the Sunday discussing poll strategy with the various committees he has constituted for the May 12 elections. From Monday, Lad plans to take up a vigorous door-to-door campaign. 

Ballari City is witnessing a clash of the two mining barons, both of them with controversial pasts. In 2015, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested Lad to question him in connection with the illegal export of more than 15,000 tonnes of iron ore from Belekeri port near Karwar.

In 2012, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had arrested Soma-
shekara, accusing him of trying to bribe a judge in order to secure bail for his brother and mining tycoon G Jarandhan Reddy.

It’s nearly noon now and the temperature has soared past 40°C. Reddy is at the fully packed Hambavi Church, greeting everyone who has arrived there to attend the Sunday mass.

“I am accessible any time and to anyone and people have realised this. The development of Ballari, be it drinking water supply, urban health or roads, has taken a severe beating during the last five years,” Reddy says.

He plans to visit each of the 58 slums in the constituency. “Ballari has the largest number of slums after Bengaluru,” he points out.

Lad has exactly the opposite to say. “The Reddy brothers had set up an evil empire here. This has been dismantled by the Congress government.”

He charges that people are even afraid to go out in the dark. “The henchmen of Reddy brothers collected hafta on a daily basis and even the poorest of the poor were not spared, “ Lad says.

Candidates in Ballari usually campaign between 7 am and 12 pm and later from 5 pm to 10 pm. For now, the intensity of the campaign is low but it is bound to gather steam in the coming days.

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Two mining tycoons sweat it out in Ballari

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