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Sriramulu quits BJP, prepares to go to Bellary bypolls alone

Filed nomination yesterday after sending his resignation to Nitin Gadkari; claims to have support of 15 BJP MLAs

With B Sriramulu quitting the BJP and entering the Bellary (Rural) by-poll fray as an independent candidate yesterday, the party in the state is facing a vertical split and a situation has come about, which has begun to indicate that the survival of the government rests in the hands of B S Yeddyurappa.

Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa with BJP ministers and leaders on his way to board a bus from his residence on Race Course Road to Siddaganga Mutt in Tumkur in the city yesterday


Sriramulu has sent a letter to Nitin Gadkari, national president of the BJP, and K S Eswarappa, state president of the party, seeking to be relieved as a primary member.
 
While he is claiming to have the support of over 15 BJP legislators, MLAs including G Somashekara Reddy, Suresh Babu, Nagendra and MPs S Shantha and Sanan Phakerappa were seen with him when he filed his nomination yesterday. This has now caused some concern over the stability of the government.

However, Sriramulu disagreed and said, "My friend G Janardana Reddy and I have toiled to bring the BJP to power and we will not do anything to destabilize the government."

Parting shot?
The developments that came about following his departure from the BJP suggests otherwise. Earlier, while the BJP was wooing Sriramulu to stand for the same polls, he had bargained for the transfer of the district police chief and deputy commissioner before he reached a flash point with the party.
 
However, on the contrary the government did transfer some police officials yesterday, but it was those officers who were supportive of Sriramulu.

"We won't budge under anybody's pressure and we are ready to take on any challenge. If Sriramulu wants to pose a challenge we are ready, but we are still trying to convince him not leave. If he tries to divide the party we know how to protect it," said Eswarappa.

He also reportedly hinted at expelling some leaders in the party for supporting Sriramulu in the elections.
Taking advantage of the situation, the JD(S) decided to support Sriramulu and it wont file nomination for its candidate and even the Congress is apparently sympathetic towards him.

Hard bargain
With the turn of events indicating Sriramulu's victory, BJP is being forced to bank on Yeddyurappa as a saving grace. This has put the former chief minister, who is just out of jail on bail, in a decisive position and he will bargain hard for control over the party.

"Yeddyurappa has decided to campaign for the party in Bellary and he will ask for a strong position. If his demands are not met, he will threaten to split the party," said a BJP leader from the Yeddyurappa camp.

The support Yeddyurappa has been getting since his release has sent out a strong and alarming signal to the party, and the high command is weighing the options carefully. While it is ready to handover a position he is seeking, the corruptions cases against him pending in the court are a hindrance.

"Yeddyurappa is the leader in the state and there is no doubt about it. However, he has to come clean on the cases before we hand over the leadership. Till then, he will work for the party to strengthen its base in the state," said Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP general secretary in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka.

Yeddyurappa, who paid a visit to Siddaganaga Matt, a prominent Lingayat mat, to seek the blessings of pontiff
Dr Shivakumara Swami, said, "I am an ordinary BJP worker and will work for the party in that capacity. It is false that I am eying the state party president position or chief minister post."

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