Bickering in saffron party a blessing in disguise for Santosh Lad

Hubballi: The dissidence in the Bharatiya Janata Party could prove to be a blessing in disguise for Minister Santosh Lad in Kalghatagi. 

Although he has stayed away from the constituency since he was elected in 2013, it appears he could have an easy victory with the BJP’s C M Nimbannavar deciding to contest as a rebel on being denied a party ticket.

Mr Lad  had stepped down as minister just a few months after the Congress formed the government in the state following a campaign against him over illegal mining by  BJP leaders and Samaj Parivarthana Samudaya founder president, S R Hiremath. He stayed away from the district on grounds of depression, a financial crisis and other family matters. Upset over the way he was forced to quit, he has maintained a low profile despite being influential in Dharwad district, leaving his loyalists and personal secretaries to handle the work in the constituency.  Now, his returning to active politics has given a shot in the arms to his loyalists. 

Mr Nimbannavar, who had lost against the minister in two consecutive polls, had hoped to capitalise on his failure to visit the constituency these elections, but was not fielded by the BJP , forcing him to turn rebel. The division of the BJP's votes has given the minister an edge these elections.

Mr  Nimbannavar’s supporters allege that BJP  leader, Pralhad Joshi has colluded with Mr Lad  and fielded a weak candidate  in Mr Mahesh Tenginkai in Kalghatagi. A seer, Basavanand Swamiji, who was also hoping for a BJP ticket, too claims there is a conspiracy afoot to let the minister win. As his angry supporters called a Kalghatagi bandh on Tuesday, shouted slogans against  BJP leaders and set tyres on fire on the streets, Mr Nimbannavar  said he would file his nomination as a rebel candidate on April 19 after a  discussion with his loyalists.

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