Venting her grouse over entry of Badava Shramika Raitha Congress president B Sreeramalu in the Bharatiya Janata Party, senior leader Sushma Swaraj on Friday night said he was taken in despite her "stiff opposition".
Distancing herself from the party's decision, Swaraj tweeted, "I want to make it absolutely clear that B Sriramulu has been admitted in the party despite my stiff opposition." The BJP has decided to field Sreeramalu, a close confidante of the Reddy brothers of the Bellary mining scam, from the Bellary Lok Sabha seat. The BJP Parliamentary Board, which discussed the issue at length on Thursday, overruled Swaraj's opposition, clearing the decks for the admission of Sreeramalu but disfavoured the merger of the BSR Congress with the BJP.
Sreeramulu had told PTI that he "has been conveyed by the BJP leadership about his ticket from Bellary". The BSR Congress has been keen on merging with the BJP but Swaraj had last week publicly articulated her opposition to the entry of Sreeramalu and Reddy brothers into the party-fold.
She had also written to party chief Rajnath Singh, saying such 'tainted' leaders should not be allowed to be associated with the party. "The BJP Parliamentary Board has decided against the merger of BSR Congress. But it has allowed some of its leaders to join the BJP-fold. However, each leader's credentials will be screened and only such people will be allowed to join the party who are not tainted, have no cases and have a good public image," a senior BJP leader said.
The BJP is ready to give some more seats to leaders coming from the BSR Congress. Swaraj's opposition came after Sreeramalu had announced that his party was merging with the national party two years after he quit the saffron outfit. This came close on the heels of re-entry of former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa into the BJP after the merger of his outfit Karnataka Janata Paksha.
The BSR Congress, BJP leaders in Karnataka feel, can garner over 3 per cent votes. It won four seats in the 2013 assembly elections in Karnataka. The Reddy brothers were said to be close to Yeddyurappa.
The three Reddy brothers, Janardhana, Karunakara and Somashekara, were once considered close to Swaraj. Janardhana is in jail in Andhra Pradesh in an illegal mining case and was considered Sreeramulu's mentor, while the other influential brother G Somashekara Reddy may also follow Sreeramulu back into the BJP.