The last time elections were fought in Karnataka the mining capital of the country, Bellary was in focus. The campaigns were grand, which made it evident that there was a lot of mining money in circulation.
Bellary was a BJP bastion with the infamous Reddy brothers and their close aide Sriramulu taking lucrative portfolios in the first ever BJP government in the South.
This time around there would be one major change in the fight for Bellary. Both major parties -- the Congress and the BJP -- do not want to field a candidate associated with the mining industry. Parties have always chosen candidates with a mining background due to the money they have, but it has not really helped any party in the long run.
Many in the Karnataka BJP feel that the Reddy brothers were roped in for their money power, but since they were not cadre based politicians they did not really help the party.
The closest aide of the Reddy brothers, Sriramulu has floated his new political outfit, the BSR Congress. The Reddy brothers, two of who are in jail, are still officially part of the BJP.
Janardhan Reddy, who is facing corruption charges, has been sending out feelers to the BJP, but the party has decided to stay away as they do not want to invite any new controversy. By the time the Reddy brothers’ terms are completed in the next couple of weeks, they would be on their own. The BJP has no intentions of giving them tickets, BJP sources said.
BJP’s decision to stay clear of anyone associated with the mining scam has also prompted the Congress to take similar action. Many in the state Congress have been fighting tooth and nail with the high command to field a fresh face. This would mean that the likes of Anil Lad, a prospective Congress candidate for Bellary, will be avoided since his name figures in the mining scam.
However, the party is facing resistance from the local Congress leaders in Bellary. They have been making a push for Congress leader Diwakar Babu.
With the BJP not keen on giving tickets to the Reddy brothers, there is speculation on their next move.
It is obvious that they would go with the BSR Congress party which was initiated with their blessings. But the chances of the BSR Congress in the polls appear weak considering the poor showing in the recently held urban local body elections. Both the BJP and the Congress have decided to stay away from the BSR Congress.
The party, however, has been sending feelers to the Janata Dal (Secular) to enter into a pre or post poll alliance. The JD-S on the other hand has been non committal.
The JD-S will take a while before it takes any decision. It may be recalled that it was the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu who had hurled bribery allegations at H D Kumaraswamy, the JD-S boss when he was the chief minister.