Updated: April 29, 2018 7:21:27 am
The BJP in Karnataka is showing signs of internal conflict over the return of the Reddy brothers of Bellary to the party fold for the May 12 Assembly elections in the light of negative public perception.
On Friday, BJP national president Amit Shah skipped a scheduled roadshow and party workers’ meetings for Bellary City candidate G Somashekhar Reddy – one of the Reddy brothers – and reportedly asked state leaders to stay away from the trio.
But the party’s state president, B S Yeddyurappa, told reporters in Hassan that the Reddy brothers were important, largely due to their ability to deliver nearly 15 seats in Hyderabad-Karnataka region, where BJP is relatively weak.
According to sources, Shah has asked BJP’s Karnataka leaders to avoid sharing a stage with G Janardhan Reddy, who is accused by CBI of running an illegal mining racket in Bellary region when BJP was in power between 2008 and 2013.
Two Reddy brothers — Karunakar and Somashekhar — are contesting the polls on BJP ticket, and the party is projecting B Sreeramulu, a Scheduled Tribe leader who is known as a close aide of Janardhan Reddy, as its possible deputy CM candidate.
In Hassan, Yeddyurappa pointed out that the BJP leadership had allowed the state unit to bring on board anyone who can help the party win a majority.
In March, Amit Shah had told the media, “We have no association with Janardhan Reddy-ji.’’
Banned by Supreme Court from entering Bellary district on account of pending cases, Janardhan Reddy seems to have emerged, nevertheless, as a key player in BJP’s efforts to win the polls this time. While he has not appeared in public for filing of nominations by his brother Somashekhar in Bellary and Karunakar in Harapanahalli (in neighbouring Davangere), he has appeared at nominations of friend Sreeramulu in Molkalmuru, in Chitradurga district bordering Bellary, and his nephew Lallesh Reddy in BTM Layout in Bengaluru in recent days.
When Sreeramulu filed his nomination, he was accompanied by Yeddyurappa, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivaraj Singh Chauhan and Janardhan Reddy.
“Janardhan Reddy is not part of BJP. He is here only as a friend,’’ Sreeramulu had said. “I have to support my friend Sreeramulu…not as a BJP leader,’’ Reddy had said.
Yeddyurappa has indicated that he set aside old differences with the Reddys — the brothers reportedly triggered two separate mutinies against him between 2008 and 2013 over control of the mining sector in Bellary – on account of a directive from the party to do anything to strengthen its poll prospects.
“The reason the Reddy camp had to be involved is due to the presence of B Sreeramulu in that camp,’’ a party leader said.
Sreeramulu, a young ST leader seen in some quarters as second in stature to Yeddyurappa in the popularity stakes in Karnataka BJP, was seen as instrumental, along with the Reddy brothers, in BJP crossing a simple majority of 113 in 2008.
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