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The Sriramulu factor: Why he is next only to Yeddyurappa

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    In the days to come, B Sriramulu will play a bigger role in the Karnataka BJP. His responsibilities have already increased and there is a strong rumour that he is likely to be made the deputy chief minister candidate.

    Sriramulu

    As of today, he is the most influential leader in the party after B S Yeddyurappa. Among the ST community he is revered and also considered as one of their tallest leader.

    He is expected to consolidate the Dalit votes in these belts. If he is projected as a Deputy CM then this could have an impact in other parts of the state as well. Sriramulu would not just restrict himself to campaigning at his constituency and Ballari. He would travel the state for the campaign.

    Sriramulu has been portrayed as the undisputed leader of the ST community. The party felt that such strong leaders must be moved out of their comfort zone so that they can influence a larger number of votes outside their original constituency.

    On the other hand, Sriramulu fits perfectly well into the scheme of things at a time when the BJP is trying to swing the pro-tribal votes in its favour. In a bid to do this Sriramulu is the star campaigner. Not only is his contest from Molakmuru expected to bring the votes from the constituency, but he would make a difference in Chitradurga, Davangere and Ballari. He has also been asked to fight in Badami against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and this is an indicator of how high he has risen in the party.

    That Sriramulu, considered close to mining baron G Janaradhana Reddy, has gained in importance became evident with the BJP fielding him from Badami against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, and also asked him to campaign extensively in the region.

    The chief minister is also trying his luck from Chamundeshwari constituency while Sreeramulu has thrown his hat into the ring from Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district, a Congress bastion.

    PTI reported that political analyst and professor of political science at Karnatak University Dr Harish Ramaswamy said that BJP faces a tough task of garnering tribal votes in North Karnataka. He has considerable influence in Hyderabad-Karnataka and Chitradurga belt and his main task is to ensure that tribal votes get transferred to the BJP from Congress, he said.

    "It is a difficult job though," Ramaswamy said.

    BJP expects to penetrate into the tribal support base of the Congress, including Chamarajnagar, Mysuru and Bagalkot districts, according to leading political analyst, Dr. Sandeep Shastri.

    Shastri said though the tribal population in Karnataka was not as large as North-Eastern states and Jharkhand, they can play an important role in a keenly fought election. Tribal communities have significant presence in 15 to 20 assembly constituencies in the state.

    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

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