After three years of patronage and protection to the Reddy brothers, after putting the corrupt 3 in the cabinet in Karnataka, after Sushma Swaraj playing godmother to them, the BJP is now all set to fight election battles against them in Bellary.
This would not be the first time that the taint of corruption has put a national party on the back foot, neither is this a problem limited to the BJP, yet it seems politicians never learn. The support of criminals continue unabated and tickets continue to be given to known criminals.
When will history finally teach its lessons?
The BJP-versus-Reddy brothers battle is the Nov 30 by-poll to the Bellary Rural seat in the state assembly.
The seat, reserved for Scheduled Tribes, was held by their associate and former health minister B. Sriramulu. The by-poll follows his resignation from the assembly in August as he was not taken in the cabinet of Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda which succeeded the B.S. Yeddyurappa ministry Aug 4.
The Reddys have now propped him up as an independent candidate to fight the by-poll. Sriramulu quit BJP Wednesday and filed nomination papers in Bellary as an independent.
However, till late Thursday he bargained with the state BJP leadership to assure him a cabinet berth so that he returns to the party fold and contest as its nominee.
The BJP refused to give in and named a novice Gadi Lingappa, a businessman in Bellary, to take on Sriramulu.
Accompanied by Sadananda Gowda, state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa, Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar and several other ministers, Lingappa filed his papers Friday, the last day for nominations.
The Reddy brothers’ latest rebellion comes in spite of the most vocal of them, Gali Janardhana Reddy, being in Hyderabad’s Chanchalaguda jail in connection with an illegal mining case in Andhra Pradesh.
When Sriramulu quit the assembly in August, it was seen as a move by the Reddy brothers to float a new party as none of them nor any of their choices were taken in the cabinet of Sadananda Gowda.
However, the plan did not take off as Janardhana Reddy, who was tourism minister in the Yeddyurappa cabinet, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Sep 5.
The Congress has fielded B. Ramprasad, who lost to Sriramulu in the 2008 assembly polls.
The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) headed by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda is not contesting. The party will decide Nov 15 on supporting Sriramulu if he gives an undertaking of not going back to BJP in case he wins the by-poll, according to senior JD-S leader and former minister Basavraj Horatti.