Congress mines V S Ugrappa for Ballari Lok Sabha byelection

Ballari: After a morning of hectic deliberations, the Congress on Monday decided to field MLC V.S. Ugrappa for the Ballari Lok Sabha byelection.

He will take on former BJP MP from Ballari B Sriramulu's sister Joladarashi Shantha in the constituency.

Both candidates are expected to file their nominations on Tuesday.  The Congress'  decision to field Mr Ugrappa despite  the many local aspirants for the Ballari has surprised many in  political circles. Although he has been a strong contender for the Ballari LS ticket ever since it was reserved for the scheduled tribes in 2009,  he was overlooked twice with former justice N.Y. Hanumanthappa, beating him to it.

The Congress, which won six of the eight assembly seats in Ballari district in the May poll, leaving only two for the BJP, believes it has the upper hand  in the LS bypoll. “Of course the Congress with its six MLAs has an edge in the constituency.  But its candidate, Ugrappa, is unfamiliar to the people of the constituency and is an outsider,” notes a political observer.

The outsider factor could be a challenge to the Congress as the BJP's candidate, Ms Shantha, is a known face in the constituency and is strongly backed by her brother and Valmiki strongman, B Sriramulu, who until recently represented it in parliament. It was his resignation after his election to the state assembly in May, that has made the bypoll necessary.   The fact that  his mentor is mining baron turned politician,  Gali Janardhan Reddy, adds to her advantage in this ore-rich district.

If Mr Sriramulu is the real man behind the scenes in the BJP's battle for Ballari, it is believed that minister, D K Shivakumar is the Congress' backroom maneuverer  in the constituency.

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