Ballari: It’s hardly surprising that it’s a battle of the mining lords in iron-ore rich Ballari city, with all three men in the fray seeming confident of winning the May 12 assembly poll on their own steam from the constituency.
While the BJP has fielded G Somashekara Reddy of the Reddy brothers’ fame, the Cong ress is once again banking on its sitting MLA and former mining baron, Anil H Lad and the JD(S) has pinned its hopes on mining baron, Mohammed Iqbal Hothur , who is hoping to emerge the dark horse in the triangular contest.
Interestingly, despite the tug of war among the mining barons, there is no mention of illegal mining or money power these polls unlike in the past. The focus instead is on development.
Following their rise in 2008, the Reddy brothers, who virtually turned Ballari into their fiefdom, had promised to transform it into one of the most progressive and developed cities of the country, but failed to deliver. This, is however ,not stopping Mr Somashekhar Reddy , who was arrested in 2012 by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly trying to bribe a judge, from promising to bring back Ballari’s “lost glory” in his campaign speeches.
Mr Lad , for his part, reminds voters that peace has been restored in Ballari since the hey days of the Reddy brothers. “Women go out to eat paanipuri at roadside eateries at 10 clock at night and return home safe. Ballari is now free of fear,” he declares, making no reference to the lack of development in the constituency over the five years he has represented it.
A Bengaluru University rank- holder, Mr Iqbal Hothur is trying to make space in Ballari city for himself and the JD(S), which has little presence in the district. Having missed the Congress ticket from Ballari city in the 2013 elections ,he was lucky enough to catch the eye of JD(S) supremo, H.D. Deve Gowda these elections.
Launching an aggressive campaign with the slogan,”Namma Ballari, Namma Hemme” Mr Hothur is making development a poll issue with his “vision document” for the progress of the city on all fronts, and offer to work as its “CEO” rather than MLA if elected. His party’s poll tie-up with the BSP could work to his advantage as the Muslim- Dalit combination is a force to reckon with in Ballari....