BJP’s Ballari fort gets cracks; Ugrappa’s brutal majority poses threat to Yeddy

BJP’s Ballari fort gets cracks; Ugrappa’s brutal majority poses threat to Yeddy

Ballari was one of the eagerly-watched constituencies in the Karnataka bypolls as it is traditionally a stronghold of BJP. From 2004 onwards, Ballari chose BJP candidates to victory and it’s notorious as the stronghold of mining barons, the Reddy brothers for their close-connection with BJP.

But this time, BJP’s fort was caught by Congress-JDS coalition and Ugrappa, an close-aide of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, won the seat by a margin of over 2, 40,000 votes. As far as majority is concerned, Ugrappa also breaks the record set by Sonia Gandhi and Sriramulu in previous LS elections. This brutal majority poses threats manifold to BJP.

It is considered as a big setback for the BJP as its candidate J Shantha is the sister of party strongman B Sriramulu. V Shantha, a former parliamentarian, who vacated the constituency to contest the assembly elections in May.

The ruling Congress-Janata Dal Secular (JDS) alliance campaigned hard in this constituency in north Karnataka, encouraged by its performance in the assembly elections; it won six of the eight assembly segments in Ballari. For Ballari, VS Ugrappa is considered an outsider but he had strong backing of Congress leaders Siddaramaiah as well as DK Shivakumar.

"I would like to thank the people of Ballari. The inhumanity of Janardhana Reddy has been cursed by the people of Ballari," tweeted former chief minister Siddaramaiah.

Ballari was Congress' assignment for its troubleshooter Shivakumar, who played a key role in the party's alliance with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy's JD(S) and in ensuring that the BJP could not form the government in Karnataka despite winning the most number of seats.

In 1999, Ballari famously hosted the battle of the giants - Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, now Union Minister. Sonia Gandhi won that round in what had been a Congress stronghold since independence.

The BJP took the seat in the next election and never looked back. Over the years, Ballari stayed firmly in the grip of Janardhana Reddy and his brothers and their closest aide Sriramulu, the BJP's key man in Karnataka.

Ahead of the 2019 national election, the bypoll results in Ballari puts many questions in front of BJP.