Former BJP minister B Sriramulu calls it a coincidence, while the Jagan camp has said that there would be no tie up with the Reddys, who are supporting Sriramulu. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
Not long ago there was talk of how the Reddy brothers in Karnataka were cozying up to YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy and wanted him to be associated with a new regional party of the brothers. While there was outright denial by both camps, the symbol chosen by former BJP minister B Sriramulu for the forthcoming by-election paints a different picture.
Sriramulu, who had to choose from a gas cylinder, television or ceiling fan for a symbol, picked the last option. Now incidentally, the ceiling fan happens to be the symbol of the YSR Congress party and this has made several in the political circles of both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka sit up and take notice.
A day before former Karnataka tourism minister Janardhan Reddy was arrested, B Sriramulu kicked up a storm in Karnataka when he resigned as BJP member of legislative assembly. Although he had not indicated that he would resign from the party, the message he sent out was very clear - he wanted to be out of the party.
Sriramulu was backed by the Reddy brothers and insiders had informed that they planned to float a regional party, which by the next elections, had planned a tie up with Jagan Mohan Reddy. However, Janardhan Reddy was picked up and sent to jail and these plans were put on hold.
Sriramulu, while speaking about choosing the same symbol, called it a coincidence. He said that there was logic behind choosing a ceiling fan. Bellary is a very hot place and Sriramulu wants to play the role of a ceiling fan to cool the people and give them comfort. There is, however, no open talk of any alliance with Jagan from the Reddy camp.
In fact, the Reddy brothers have not been seen openly supporting Sriramulu during his campaign at Bellary for the by-election. Though Janardhan Reddy is in jail, Sriramulu met him before announcing his candidature as an independent. While Somashekara Reddy has been seen openly campaigning with Sriramulu, the other Reddy brother, Karunakar Reddy, has not come out in the open to support Sriramulu.
However, what is more significant is that none of the Reddy brothers have resigned from the BJP like the way Sriramulu did.
The Jagan camp in Hyderabad is, however, keeping its cards close to its chest. "Take it in writing that there shall be no tie up with the Reddys. Why would our boss want such a tie up when all it does is spell trouble. We have no political or business links with the Reddys and would want no such links in future as well. Any tie up with the Reddy brothers would only make tongues wag and prove that the allegations that the two camps are close right. We would, however, not say that they do not want a tie up with Jagan. They may be desperate for a tie up as it helps their prospects due to Jagan's image but we are not keen," a senior member from the Jagan camp said.
The Reddy camp is however not as vocal as the Jagan faction. They want to tackle this issue slowly. They are focusing on winning this by-election and also appear to be confident about victory. We have a good start in this election and hope that the voters will not let us down. Once this election is won, then they propose on sending Sriramulu on a state-wide tour to test the political waters.
Their focus would be mainly on the bordering areas of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and if they feel that they can muster support then they would launch a regional party, following which the Reddy brothers would come out of the BJP.
But at the moment there appears to be a war between Sriramulu and the BJP on the battlefield of Bellary.
The Congress candidate has been defeated in the past and the Janata Dal (Secular) has not fielded any candidate. Sriramulu has been veiled in his attack and has not been targeting the BJP directly. All he tells his voters is that he has been betrayed and quotes the Lokayukta report on illegal mining a thousand times in which his name is mentioned. I am hurt and will come out clean. I have come to the people seeking justice.
The BJP on the other hand has only been targeting Sriramulu. Although they do not take the name of the Reddy brothers in the open, since they are still part of the party, they have been making indirect attacks.
The BJP says that all these people have extracted maximum benefits from the party, but when the heat was on them they have run away. At the end of the day for these people it is all about safeguarding their booty.