Congress plays Anand card, Ballari in bag?

Bengaluru:  The Congress threw its doors open to Hosapete strongman Anand Singh on Wednesday, when he formally joined the party with great fanfare in the presence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, KPCC chief Dr G. Parameshwar and other senior leaders. But while the former BJP minister's front door entry is expected to deal a huge blow to the saffron stronghold in mine-rich Ballari, the former stomping ground of indicted BJP mine baron Janardhan Reddy, it may also prove embarrassing, given that it was the CM's rally against the BJP's involvement in the iron-ore scam that brought the Congress back into the reckoning in the state.  

While Congress stalwarts like KPCC chief Dr. G. Parameshwar praised the former BJP minister Mr Singh as a mass leader, Congress MLC, K.C. Kondaiah walked a  fine line when he said that the party had nothing to do with the cases that are still pending against Mr. Singh, and then added, "we will not dilute the cases." There are strong indications that Congress stalwarts in Ballari are not comfortable over sharing space with Mr. Singh, who only recently resigned from the BJP and the Legislative Assembly.      

Hosapete MLA joins Cong, vows to make Rahul rally a success
Congress campaign committee chairman, D.K. Shivakumar also announced that Mr. Singh will contest the coming assembly poll from his former constituency of Hosapete in Ballari district. 

Mr Singh reportedly decided to join the party only after he was offered the Hosapete ticket for the elections with strong reports that it was Labour Minister, Santhosh Lad who played a key role in bringing him into the Congress.
 
Having been to jail twice in the past on charges of involvement in  the Belekeri iron ore export scam, Mr Singh is currently out on bail but continues to face charges related to the iron ore scam. 
  
In an apparent bid to win at all costs, the Congress is reportedly preparing to induct   two more BJP MLAs, T.H. Suresh Babu ( BJP MPSriramulu's nephew) and H. Nagendra after AICC president, Rahul Gandhi's visit to Karnataka on February 10. Mr Singh's first litmus test will be to make a success of Mr Gandhi's rally in Hosapete, to rub home the less than warm reception that BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa received there recently during his Parivartana rally. 

"He is aware of what is expected of him," said Mr Singh's close aides.

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