Is this the beginning of BJP's nightmare?

Sriramulu's landslide victory in Bellary is giving the BJP leadership sleepless nights. the assembly's winter session may turn in to a bed of hot coals for the ruling party

A day before the Assembly sits for the winter session, BJP's worst nightmare has come true, as its rival leader B Sriramulu, who has the backing of the JD(S) and around 20 BJP legislators, secured a landslide victory in the Bellary bypoll.

If Sriramulu's thumping victory has sent shivers down the spine of faction-riddled BJP, it has also reportedly split the Bellary brothers, his mentors.

While the Reddy camp, led by G Janardana Reddy now in jail, reveled on the victory of its poster boy, G Karunakara Reddy, the eldest of the siblings, was conspicuous by his absence.

Thumping victory
Contesting as an independent candidate, Sriramulu won Bellary (Rural) seat with a margin of 46,790 votes against his nearest rival B Ramaprasad of the Congress. Interestingly, the BJP's official candidate was pushed to a humiliating third slot only to lose his deposit.

While Karunakara Reddy is maintaining distance from Sriramulu,
sibling Janaradana is supporting the victor

With the open support of the JD(S) and covert blessings of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, Sriramulu managed to get 75,527 votes, while the Congress candidate bagged 27,737 votes. And BJP's Gadilingappa could manage to bag a meager 17,366 votes.

A powerful leader of the politically influential Nayaka community, Sriramulu had resigned as a BJP MLA, in September this year, complaining about the humiliation he and his mentors the Reddy brothers were subjected to following their indictment in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining.

Meteoric rise
But Sriramulu's meteoric rise in the faction has reportedly threatened the authority of Karunakara Reddy. "It's unfortunate.

Karunakara Reddy is our senior leader, but he chose to be neutral in this particular bypoll due to some political reasons. However, he is very much with us," said Mruthyunjaya Jidiga, an MLC from the Reddy camp.

B Sriramulu gestures to the crowd for giving him
a thumping victory in Bellary bypoll

However, insiders from the Reddy camp said Karunakara Reddy did not approve of Sriramulu's leadership and he is contemplating whether to join the Congress or retire from active politics.

Inferiority complex

While Janardana Reddy promoted Sriramulu as the leader of his camp, Karunakara Reddy was against the idea right from the beginning.

The fissures in the camp came to light during the bypoll as Karunakara Reddy decided to stay away from electioneering. He neither canvassed for the BJP, nor appeared with Sriramulu.

However, G Somashekara Reddy, the youngest of the Reddy brothers and BJP MLA from Bellary (Urban), supported Sriramulu openly along with two other BJP legislators Suresh Babu and Nagendra attracting suspension from the party.

The BJP also suspended two MPs J Shantha and Sanna Fakirappa. "Janardana Reddy has big political plans in his mind. He wants to promote Sriramulu as the face of his soon-to-be-floated party.

While the youngest brother is game for it, the eldest one is opposing it tooth and nail. This can lead to bifurcation of the camp," said a source close to the Reddys.

According to sources, Karunakara Reddy is in talks with the Congress leaders, but it is not clear whether he would leave the BJP to join the Congress.

While speculations are rife over Karunakara Reddy's move, sources said it could even be a political strategy of Janardana Reddy to keep Congress in good humour as he needed its support to get a clean chit in the illegal mining cases being probed by the CBI.

Floating new party?
In the meantime, buoyed by his landslide victory, Sriramulu is reportedly planning to float a new political outfit with the support of the JD(S). He is expected to meet JD(S) state president H D Kumarswamy in the city today, before taking oath as an elected legislator.

As the winter session beings today, the moves of Sriramulu and Kumarswamy will be closely watched as the former is claiming to have support of over 20 BJP MLAs.

"Sriramulu's victory is a warning bell for the BJP government and it is against the humiliation faced by the backward classes who supported it," said Kumaraswamy, keeping the cards close to his chest.

Imminent crisis
Meanwhile, Somashekara Reddy dropped hints on the problems for the government in store.

"The BJP suspended us from the party for having supported Sriramulu. There are many in the party with us and going by democratic principles, the Assembly must be dissolved and fresh elections must be held," he said.

Reacting to the speculations, Sriramulu, however, ruled out the possibility of him destabilising the BJP government.

"It is true that we have support of many BJP legislators. But, we will not pull down the government because we believe in construction but not destruction," said Sriramulu.

Yeddy's pressure tactics
The humiliating rout in the Bellary battle has certainly left the BJP red-faced. But Yeddyurappa is understood to be happy with the debacle.
"He would now further bargain for the top leadership, if the party doesn't oblige, he will even threaten to split it to form his own outfit," said a BJP leader.

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