Karnataka Congress leadership is seems to be worried over the fate of its candidate prospects in the prestigious Ballari Lok Sabha by-poll due to ongoing power struggle between two powerful ministers from the party. Congress in its efforts to wrest this seat from BJP, for which poll is to be held on November 3, is upset as two ministers are crossing swords during campaign.
Ministers D K Shivakumar and Ramesh Jharkiholi were at loggerheads since couple of months over alleged attempt by Shivakumar to gain control of a cooperative bank in Jharkiholi’s home district. Here also they seems to be determined to prove their `superiority’ in poll campaign, which would feared to be cost Congress heaviley.
The Congress has fielded former MLC V S Ugrappa as its candidate in Ballari, reserved for Scheduled Tribes, and Shivakumar is heading the campaign. The leadership had initially drafted Jharkiholi , an ST leader, for campaigning, but has now asked him to stay away over fears that his rivalry with Shivakumar could hurt the party.
Jharkiholi had been assigned the task of campaigning in Kudligi region of Ballari, but was soon asked to withdraw from the campaign. The Ballari bypoll has been necessitated by the resignation of B Sreeramulu of the BJP, a Valmiki Nayak tribe leader, who has dominated Ballari politics for over a decade, as a close associate of mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy, who is currently facing prosecution by the CBI for operating an illegal mining mafia in the region between 2008 and 2011.
Sreeramulu resigned as MP in May after he was elected to the state assembly on a BJP ticket, expecting to become deputy chief minister if BJP forms its government. The BJP has fielded Sreeramulu’s proxy, his sister and former MP J Shanta, for the Ballari by-poll in an effort to ensure that it retains control of the constituency.
Though Congress Ugrappa is now a local leader, the party chosen him as he became familiar as an aggressive campaigner against the illegal mining mafia a few years ago and his proximity to former chief minister Siddaramaiah.