Ballari: While the BJP is struggling to find a strong candidate to take him on in Ballari, sitting Congress MP, V S Ugrappa, may not find the Lok Sabha poll a cakewalk either owing to the lack of interest in the campaigning by some of his party MLAs in the constituency.
Although the party has MLAs in six of the eight assembly segments of Ballari constituency, the indifference of some of the legislators has left the party jittery ahead of the LS poll.
The Congress party had won Ballari in the November 2018 bypoll after losing it to the BJP for three consecutive terms since 2004, with Mr Ugrappa defeating Ms J Shantha of the BJP by 2.4 lakh votes. But five months later as Mr Ugrappa readies to contest again, things have changed, forecasting tougher times ahead for him.
Iron ore rich Ballari was thought to be a bastion of the BJP until the 2018 Assembly elections when its legislators, B Nagendra and BS Anand Singh and JDS legislator, Bhima Naik joined the Congress and were re-elected to the assembly on its ticket. This helped the party establish itself firmly in the district and led to Mr Ugrappa’s later win in the bypoll as all six Congress MLAs actively campaigned for him in the hope of getting a ministerial berth in the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.
But after the by-poll, only Congress legislators, E Tukaram and P T Parameshwar Naik were inducted into the state’s cabinet, leaving the other MLAs unhappy. Since then Mr Singh has not been seen in the district allegedly due to ill health and Mr Nagendra and Mr Naik make only an occasional appearance. As for Kampli MLA, Ganesh, he has a grouse to nurse as he is behind bars for allegedly assaulting Mr Singh at the Eagleton Resort recently.
It is now rumoured that all four MLAs are likely to join the BJP along with Belagavi strongman, Ramesh Jarkiholi. A section of Congress leaders blame former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former minister, Santosh Lad for the mess as they were instrumental in getting the former BJP legislators to join the party....