Karnataka assembly elections 2018: Who will bite the dust in Ballari
The dust has not settled as yet in Ballari. The memories of the mining scam are fresh in the minds of the people. It was a BJP bastion in 2008, but the saffron party did not manage to retain it in 2013.
There are 9 assembly seats in Ballari that are up for grabs. It is a battle of prestige that would be fought between the BJP and Congress. While both parties would slug it out, there are problems galore that both sides would need to sort out.
At a recent rally, the BJP's chief ministerial candidate, BS Yeddyurappa had said that if Rahul Gandhi decides to contest Ballari in 2019, he would lose by a margin of 1 lakh votes. The statement came in the wake of rumours that Rahul Gandhi may make Ballari his safe seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In 2013, Karnataka Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah led a rally to Ballari. This paid off for the Congress which went on to win 5 out of the 9 seats. The BJP JD(S), BSRCP and independent candidate hold one seat each.
While the Congress appears to be confident, it would also do a reality check this time around. In 2013, the BJP has split three ways- the BJP, BSRCP and the KJP. However, this time around it would be one BJP taking on the Congress.
Problems for both:
For the BJP, the unity factor would be crucial. Two key players are already in talks with the Congress. They are Anand Singh and Nagendra Rao. If the BJP fails to pacify them and they get a raw deal from the Congress, both would contest as independents, sources say.
Both these leaders are capable of causing a dent in the chances of the BJP. It would be entirely up to both Yeddyurappa and Ballari strongman, Sriramulu to tackle this issue. A split of this nature could prove costly for the BJP and the party would not want that ahead of such a crucial election.
While the BJP is battling this problem, the story is not rosy within the Congress either. Some Congress leaders are already questioning the rationale of including Nagendra. He was the same person who dared Siddaramaiah in 2010 to enter Ballari.
The other issue is between the Lads. Santhosh Lad being made the district in-charge minister had not gone down too well with his cousin Anil Lad. Anil Lad feels that Santhosh would use his clout with Siddaramaiah to undermine him. A split within the Lads would also derail the chances of the Congress to a certain extent.
The other troublemaker for the Congress could be senior leader K C Kondaiah. He feels sidelined in the party. He was the architect who set up the fight for the Congress against the BJP during the days of the mining scam. He feels left out since the Congress came to power in 2013. He also was reportedly upset when Santhosh Lad was made the district in-charge minister.
For now, it would be an extremely tough call to take as to who would win this bastion. Both the BJP and Congress have problems galore. The manner in which these internal rifts would be sorted out will be very crucial to the chances of both parties.
|Karnataka Assembly Election dates|
|Date of notification||April 17|
|Last date to file nominations||April 24|
|Last date to withdraw nominations||April 27|
|Date of polling||May 12|
|Date of counting||May 15|