The beleaguered Bellary brothers are mulling over retreating from the fierce political battleground and settling for a safer role of a kingmaker from behind the scene. According to sources close the Reddys, the siblings G. Janardhana, G Karunakara and G Somashekara Reddy are planning to leave the centre-stage for their brother-in-law and confidant B Sriramulu, who is likely to float his own party if he wins Bellary bypoll. Sriramulu enjoys support of the JD (S) chief H D Deve Gowda, who is conspire to split the BJP and eventually form an alliance that will rule the state.
The recent political developments that saw Janardana going to jail after being indicted in illegal mining cases and Karunkara being denied a berth in the D V Sadananda Gowda cabinet after B S Yeddyurappa’ cabinet was dissolved following the then chief minister’s indictment in land scams, may have prompted the Reddys to take refuge behind the veils of the political theater.
According to political observers, the Bellary mining barons may plan to retire from mainstream politics, but they will continue to enjoy immense influence over the political class. Earlier, they had the blessings of the BJP only, now they will be able to enjoy the patronage of political parties of all hues.
If Karunakara Reddy is maintaining equidistance from all political parties, Somsekhara, a sitting BJP MLA, has risen in revolt against the party and is openly canvassing for rival Sriramulu. “The real strength of the Reddys is money and they seem to have understood that. During their tryst with the BJP, the mining barons have also realised that sitting on the lap of a particular political party may offend the others. So they have decided to become kingmakers instead of dirtying their hands as players in the political battleground. As per the new strategy, Sriramulu will be in the forefront of active politics,” said a source.
According to political observers, the Bellary bypoll result on November 30 will make or mar BJP’s prospects in the region and change the political scenario in the state. One possible scenario is that Sriramulu floats a political outfit to contest the upcoming assembly polls and enters a post-poll alliance with the JD(S).
Yeddyurappa too is expected to join the coalition by floating his own party. But he is keeping his cards close to his chest and will open them only after the verdict of the bypoll is out. According to political observers, Yeddyurappa may be covertly supporting his old aide Sriramulu whom the former chief minister may take under his wings. But officially, he will be campaigning in Bellary for three days from Monday.
Yeddyurappa is understood to have agreed to campaign for the BJP last week, only after the BJP high command ‘accepted’ to his demand of handing over the post of state president to him. He met the national leaders, including Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley, on Saturday in Delhi, and left for Vaishnodevi pilgrimage on Sunday.
Rejecting the claims of him bargaining for the state president’s post, Yeddyurappa said, “It is not true. I am neither lobbying for the state president’s post nor for the chief minister’s position. I don’t want any positions, but I am interested in the BJP’s victory in the Bellary bypoll. And I will campaign for the party as a common worker and see to it that our candidate wins,” he added.
But, according to sources close to him, the scam-tainted leader will be a winner even if the BJP wins or loses the seat. If Sriramulu wins the election, no one would able to blame Yeddyurappa for BJP’s debacle. And if Sriramulu tastes defeat, he will surely claim credit for the victory of Gadilingappa, a political greenhorn.
‘Not yet finalised’
“Nothing has been finalised about the future course of action and news on Reddy brothers’ retirement is just speculative. Our priority now is win Bellary bypoll and nothing else,” said Ravishankar Bettampadi, Sriramulu’s media coordinator.(MD)