Bellary has been in the news over the last few years for illegal iron ore mining, and two people who were implicated in the Lokayukta report on it — B. Sriramulu of the BSR Congress and Anil Lad of the Congress — are in the fray for the May 5 Assembly elections from Bellary (Rural) and Bellary (City) constituencies respectively.
Mr. Sriramulu, close aide of jailed mining baron G. Janardhan Reddy, floated a new party to seek an independent political identity outside the BJP.
It is not enough for him to retain the Bellary Rural seat, which he won in 2008 and in the subsequent byelection held in 2011, but also ensure that the new party retains political relevance in the post-election period.
The big drawback for him is the absence of backing by the Reddy brothers. While the key figure, Janardhan Reddy is in jail in Hyderabad, Somashekhar Reddy has receded to the background and Karunakar Reddy has remained with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
All the euphoria that his party created initially has fizzled out after the disappointing performance in the just-concluded civic elections, where he faced a rout in Bellary city. More recently, his efforts to seek a tie-up with other parties ended in disaster, with all the three major parties rejecting the offer. There has been open talk about his “political vulnerability”, which was unthinkable earlier.
On the other hand, Mr. Lad in Bellary (City) is expecting comfortable sailing. The Congress, which is in an upbeat mood after its success in the ULB elections, seems to be determined to regain its lost citadel. Illegal mining, misuse of power and misrule by the Reddy brothers are the major issues being raised by the Congress, even as, ironically, Mr. Lad himself is named in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining.
Mr. Lad, a mine lessee from Sandur, who lost the 2008 elections by a narrow margin of just over 1,000 votes, appears confident of victory. With the Reddy brothers out of the BJP, Mr. Lad’s confidence has been boosted.
However, Mr. Lad has had to contend with serious dissidence and getting the party nomination was not an easy task for him.
There was stiff opposition within the party to granting him the nomination because of the charges he faces related to illegal mining.
Though he got the ticket eventually, Congress leaders within the city are still unhappy and are not expected to wholeheartedly work for his success.
To what extent will affect party support in the constituency remains to be seen.
In both the constituencies, other parties are only a nominal presence.