One of the most prominent names in the BJP's second list of candidates for the Karnataka assembly elections was that of Somashekhar Reddy. This was a surprise pick as it appeared as though the BJP was distancing itself from the Reddy brothers of Ballari.
Reddy will be contesting from the Ballari rural constituency. He would be taking on Anil Lad the sitting MLA who he had defeated in 2008 by a margin of around 1,000 votes.
Back in 2008, the Reddys- Janardhan, Somashekhara and Karunakara were a force to reckon with. They could get anything done with a wave of a hand. The might of mining lobby was made known to the country thanks to the Reddys. They could get officials transferred and on several occasions even held the BJP government to ransom.
However, towards the end of the BJP's term in 2013, the Reddy brothers began to fade. The Lokayukta report and a series of investigations in connection with the illegal mining scam pushed them to the wall. All of a sudden they were taboo and the BJP too distanced itself from them.
The mining empire began crumbling and Janardhan Reddy even spent four years in jail before being granted bail. He was even suspended from the party following which his close aide B Sriramulu quit the BJP to form the BSR Congress party.
In 2013, the Reddy brothers played no role in the elections. Sriramulu did manage to put up an impressive performance in the Ballari region. The BJP in 2013 had lost its Ballari bastion. The chants by the Reddy brothers daring anyone to enter Ballari and defeat the BJP were missing.
The return of the Reddys:
Over the past five years, there were some developments in the Reddy camp. The first sign of a patch up was seen when Sriramulu disbanded his party and returned to the BJP. He won the 2014 Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket.
While the BJP was sure about Sriramulu considering the huge follower base he has among the Nayaka community, there was no decision on the Reddy brothers. Janardhan Reddy was released from jail and post that he maintained that he was still with the BJP, but the party was not ready to comment. However a sign of patch -up was visible at the mega Rs 500 crore wedding of Janardhan Reddy's daughter held in Bengaluru which was attended by top BJP leaders.
Recently even Amit Shah said that they had nothing to do with the Reddy brothers. The Reddys went into a huddle and it was strongly rumoured that they were sending feelers to the JD(S).
When the BJP announced its first list of candidates, it decided that Sriramulu would contest from Molakmuru. The BJP pulled him out of his comfort zone in Ballari and moved him to Chitradurga hoping that he would be able to consolidate a huge number of votes. In this move, the BJP was looking to take both the Chitradurga, Davangere and Ballari regions.
However, Sriramulu had more work on hand. He wanted the support of the Reddy brothers and worked behind the scenes to ensure that they were back in business. The BJP finally gave in and offered a ticket to Somashekhara Reddy.
The second innings for the Reddy brothers have begun. With both Sriramulu and Somashekhara in the fray, the Reddys would go all out to ensure a win for their candidates. The BJP hopes that they would have an influence on the Ballari, Chitradurga, Raichur regions that border Andhra Pradesh. Will the gamble pay off? Wait till May 15.
|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|