Tribal leader Sriramulu is BJP’s pick against CM Siddaramaiah in Badami
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Tribal leader Sriramulu is BJP’s pick against CM Siddaramaiah in Badami

Sriramulu, an aide of mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy, has already filed his nomination from Molkalmuru constituency in Chitradurga.

bengaluru Updated: Apr 24, 2018 23:22 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka election,Battle for Karnataka,BJP
BJP MP B Sriramulu files his nomination papers in presence of Union minister Prakash Javadekar and BS Yeddyurappa in Badami on Tuesday.(PTI)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday nominated tribal leader B Sriramulu as its candidate from the Badami seat in Karnataka’s Bagalkot district, where he will go up against chief minister Siddaramaiah in the May 12 polls.

Sriramulu, an aide of mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy, has already filed his nomination from the Molkalmuru constituency in Chitradurga. Like Siddaramaiah, who is also contesting from Chamundeshwari in Mysuru district, Sriramulu is set to contest two seats.

Addressing the media after filing his nomination in Badami, Sriramulu said he was bowing to the party high command’s decision. “I want to thank BJP national president Amit Shah and state president BS Yeddyurappa for fielding me from here. Yeddyurappa should become the chief minister and the BJP should win 150 seats and I am here to help the party in this effort,” Sriramulu said.

“There is no calculation behind this decision it only matters how much service you have done for the people,” Sriramulu said. “The election in this state is akin to the battle of Mahabharata, between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. We will definitely win this,” he added. Analysts say Sriramulu is likely to give a tough fight to the CM.

Nearly a quarter of the electorate in Badami hails from the Kuruba (traditional shepherds) community, the same as Siddaramaiah. The other big bloc of votes are the Lingayat community, which continues to be divided over the recently granted religion status.

However, dissidence within the Congress might hurt the CM. The sitting MLA BB Chimanakatti was denied a ticket and the Congress originally declared Devraj Patil as its Badami candidate. Though Patil has been mollified with promise of an MLC seat in the future, there is friction between the Chimankatti and Patil factions after the CM declared his intention to contest from here. Siddaramaiah, who filed his papers after having lunch at Chimankatti’s residence, has tried his best to bring both factions together.

In addition, Mahantesh Gurupadappa Mamadapur the Janata Dal (Secular) candidate who lost by a small margin in 2013, has joined the BJP, giving it a boost in Badami. BJP state general secretary Shobha Karandlaje has claimed that 20 of the 26 taluk panchayats and a majority of the gram panchayat seats in Badami are under the BJP’s control.

Also, the collective vote of the erstwhile Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP, and the Badavara Shramikara Raitara Congress (both started by leaders who had left the BJP but have since merged with the saffron party) and the JD(S) was more than that of Congress in the 2013 assembly election. Scheduled Tribes are the second biggest bloc of voters in the constituency and Sriramulu being an ST himself might help the BJP.

But the chief minister has dismissed any such speculation. “People of the region had pressured the high command, which asked me to contest from here, and I am bowing to this decision,” he said.

When asked if the worry over losing was behind the decision, Siddaramaiah said, “Didn’t the prime minister contest from two seats in 2014, (JD(S) chief) HD Deve Gowda has similarly contested two seats in the past and (former chief minister) HD Kumaraswamy is contesting from two seats this time. Are they running scared as well?”

First Published: Apr 24, 2018 23:22 IST