Bellary (Karnataka), Dec 4 (IANS) The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's pampered, ambitious and lately turned-rebellious Reddy brothers Sunday dealt a massive blow to the party in their stronghold Bellary as their candidate won the assembly by-poll with a huge margin while the BJP candidate lost his security deposit.
The Reddy brothers' associate B. Sriramulu won the bypoll and the BJP candidate P. Gadilingappa came third.
Congress candidate B. Ramprasad came second belying the BJP's claims that the battle for the Bellary Rural assembly seat, which Sriramulu had won as BJP nominee in the May 2008 assembly elections, was between it and the Reddy brothers' associate.
The Reddy brothers made Sriramulu quit the assembly seat and the BJP, forcing the bypoll. He fought as an independent and romped home polling 74,527 votes to Ramprasad's 27,737, while BJP nominee Gadilingappa managed just 17,366. A candidate who fails to get one-sixth of the polled votes loses his security deposit.
The Janata Dal-Secular led by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda did not contest and backed Sriramulu.
The Reddys felt cornered as their 'thayi' (mother) senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj 'disowned' them when then Lokayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde nailed them, Sriramulu and Yeddyuappa in July this year in the illegal mining scam.
The mining barons did not lose much time to show to BJP that they cannot be discarded so easily after using their financial muscle to muster majority in 2008 to come to power for the first time in the state. The BJP had won only 110 seats and crossed the majority mark of 113 in the 225-member assembly with the help of independents won over by the Reddy brothers.
After his victory was announced Sunday, Sriramulu said 'the BJP has been taught a lesson for ditching us after using our services to form the first government in Karnataka' in May 2008.
Sriramulu, who has announced he will form a new party, said he will take the idea forward after discussions with Gali Janardhana Reddy, the most vocal of the three Reddy brothers, who is in Hyderabad's Chanchalaguda jail since Sep 5 in connection with the illegal mining case in Andhra Pradesh.
The younger Reddy, Gali Somashekara, who has been suspended from BJP for canvassing for Sriramulu, told reporters that the result will bring in changes in the state's political scene.
In Bangalore Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda said he was confident of the survival of his government and Sriramulu's victory will not have any impact.
Sriramulu has claimed that several BJP lawmakers from Bellary and neighbouring districts of Raichur and Gadag are supporting him and the Reddy brothers and he can bring down the Gowda government if he wants to.
The BJP has 119 members, including the speaker and the support of one independent in the assembly that includes one nominated member.
Though it publicly maintains there is 'no threat' to the government, the BJP has begun wooing five independents who had helped it form the government in 2008.
State BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa has claimed that 'many Congress and JDS legislators are keen to join BJP.'
Janardhana, the elder Karunakara and the younger Somashekara are still in BJP but gambled to take on the party in Bellary through their staunch loyalist Sriramulu.
Janardhana and Karunakara were ministers in the BJP's first government in Karnataka which was headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa. Karunakara and Somashekara are assembly members while Janardhana is in the legislative council.
Somashekara has been suspended from BJP for campaigning for Sriramulu, though it is widely believed that it is Janardhana who orchestrated the bypoll battle from his Chanchalaguda jail cell. Karunakara has not been seen in public since mid-September.
Hegde sought Yeddyurappa's trial for corruption and recommended sacking of Janardhana, Karunakara and Sriramulu from the ministry.
Gowda took over Aug 4 but the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu were not taken in the ministry in view of Hegde's recommendation. The BJP also did not also take any of the Reddy brothers' supporters in the Gowda ministry, leaving the mining barons fuming.
They engineered the bypoll to Bellary rural seat by making Sriramulu quit the seat in September.
Sriramulu tried till Nov 9, just two days before the last date for filing nominations to the bypoll, to get an assurance from the party that he will be made a minister again.
Since BJP did not budge, he quit the party and filed his papers as an independent.
Pushed to the corner BJP thought of showing that it is the party and not the individual who matters and fielded Gadilingappa, a Bellary businessman as its nominee. He was contesting the poll for the first time.
The BJP game plan has failed and it is back again to wooing the independents, if not Sriramulu and Reddy brothers again, for survival till the next assembly election due in abut 18 months.
The Reddy brothers may use the Bellary victory for a deal with the BJP which too may, like many political parties, start singing 'no permanent friends and no permanent enemies in politics' tune.