BJP leaves it to Ramulu to douse Molakalmuru fire

Bengaluru: The BJP seems to have taken its hands off the issue of strong opposition to allotting the Molakalmuru Assembly seat to Ballari MP B. Sriramulu, and has left it to the backward class leader to manage the situation.

But did the party anticipate a backlash if the ticket was denied to Tippeswamy, the sitting BJP MLA from Molakalmuru? Party sources claimed that the leaders expected trouble, but they needed Mr Sriramulu to woo BC votes in general and Nayaka votes in particular in Ballari and Chitradurga districts. 

Mr Sriramulu and former minister Gaali Janardhan Reddy worked secretly over the last few months to select a seat where their community has a large presence. In fact, the state leaders were aware of this operation, but kept quiet as they needed Mr Sriramulu’s help. Mr Sriramulu reportedly pressured the party for an Assembly ticket as he felt he has  limited scope in national politics. He worked secretly to get the Molakalmuru ticket and he pressed hard when the state party leaders promised him the deputy CM’s post if the BJP came to power. Sources said the party desperately wanted a BC face and felt Mr Sriramulu fitted the bill. It was also comfortable with the idea that Mr Sriramulu can fight the battle on his own. Besides, it was thought that he has enough influence to attract OBC votes in other districts of North Karnataka too.  In the 2008 Assembly polls, Mr Sriramulu singlehandedly trounced the Congress in its strongholds of Gadag, Ballari, Haveri and Dharwad districts. But his popularity nosedived after 
B.S. Yeddyurappa quit the BJP and floated his own political outfit.  When Mr Janardhan Reddy rented a house at a village on Ballari-Chitradurga border a few months ago, it was evident that the Reddy brothers were going to play their game ahead of the polls to re-establish their supremacy in the politically vibrant Ballari district. 

Sources said that BJP  president Amit Shah’s statement that the BJP has no links with Mr Reddy was only for public consumption, when in fact, party national leaders, who knew of his influence over voters despite not being in active politics for over five years, asked him to work quietly for the victory of BJP candidates. 

The BJP is now banking on Mr Reddy and Mr Sriramulu to get enough seats to form a government on its own.

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