Ballari: The Congress seems to be a divided house in this ore rich district as it struggles to take on the ruling BJP in bypoll bound Vijayanagar constituency with prominent leaders of the party staying off campaign. They include former minister Anil Lad and Ballari Rural Congress MLA B. Nagendra who reportedly consider rival BJP candidate B.S. Anand Singh 'a close friend.'
The Congress has fielded KPCC general secretary and a member of the Sandur Ghorpade royal family, Mr Venkat Rao Ghorpade, against BJP nominee and disqualified MLA Anand Singh.
Compared to the high-voltage campaign of the BJP, the Congress party's campaign lacks vigour. CM B.S. Yediyurappa has finished his first round of campaigning, while former former CM and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy too has launched campaign for his party candidate N.M. Nabi with good support of his party workers.
The arrival of former CM and Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah in the constituency on Thursday did boost the morale of the party cadre with Mr Siddaramaiah receiving a rousing welcome from his supporters. Apparently inspired by the grand welcome, the former CM launched a scathing attack on disqualified Congress legislator and BJP candidate Mr Singh.
However, former minister Santosh Lad who was said to be instrumental in bringing Mr Singh into the Congress party ahead of the 2018 assembly poll and Ballari Rural Congress MLA Mr B Nagendra, did not join Mr Siddaramaih in the campaign.
Hagaribomanahalli Congress MLA Bhima Naik too had remained off the campaign though he has not been on good terms with BJP candidate Mr Singh. However, he joined Siddaramaiah on Thursday, while Mr Santosh Lad and Mr Nagendra continue to stay off the campaign.
Sources said Mr Siddaramaiah has asked Mr Naik and Kampli Congress MLA Ganesh to campaign for the party candidate, Mr Ghorpade. It remains to be seen whether Mr Lad and Mr Nagendra will join the party leaders at a later date or continue to stay away.
The Congress has assigned former minister Basavaraj Rayaraddi the task of overseeing the campaign in the constituency with other leaders....