Karnataka's Reddys learn crowds don't always mean votes
Switching from cycle-riding to heli-hopping and lording over Bellary and the BJP in Karnataka, mining barons Reddy brothers and their associates are learning a bitter lesson: money and crowds do not always translate into votes.
The lack of vote-catching ability, when elections are only a month away, invariably means desperate attempts to strike a political alliance - only to be spurned. This stark reality has hit the Reddy brothers and their associate B. Sriramulu, a former Bharatiya Janata Party minister, as Karnataka heads to assembly polls May 5.
Sriramulu quit the BJP in November 2011 as he was not made a minister in the second BJP government in the state headed by D.V. Sadananda Gowda and floated BSR Congress.
While his patron-in-chief G. Janardhana Reddy spent time between Chanchalaguda jail in Hyderabad and the central prison in Parappana Agrahara in east Bangalore over illegal iron ore mining and export, Sriramulu organized rallies in many parts of the state and managed to gather some crowds.
He had the open backing of one of Janardhana Reddy's two brothers, G. Somashekara Reddy (BJP), who continues to be an assembly member.
Both boasted of proving to the BJP that it is not a force in the state without the backing of the Reddys and their associates.
The dream came crashing down March 11, days ahead of the announcement of the assembly election date, when the results of the polls to urban local bodies (ULBs) were out.
Sriramulu's party did not win even one seat out of the 246 in the iron-ore rich Bellary district, about 300 km north of Bangalore, which the Reddys and Sriramulu have lorded over since 2004.
The party's overall show was dismal with only 86 of the nearly 1,500 in the fray winning. Elections were held to elect over 4,900 representatives to run 207 urban local bodies.
Since then Somashekara Reddy has virtually disappeared from public view while Sriramlu has been hunting for allies.
The only major party with which he could have hoped for an alliance was the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) headed by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda.
Sriramulu met Gowda's son and JD-S state president H. D. Kumaraswamy and spoke confidently of a tie-up coming through soon. His spokespersons went further and told the media that all had been tied up and only a formal announcement was due.
The optimism turned out to be totally misplaced.
While Gowda declared Monday that the JD-S would not enter into an alliance with any party, Kumaraswamy followed suit Tuesday, leaving Sriramulu to fend for himself.
The BJP is likely to give tickets to Somashekara Reddy and the third Reddy brother, G. Karunakara, who was minister along with Janardhana in the first BJP government headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa.
Unlike Somashekara, Karunakara has not backed Sriramlu and has been keeping a low profile since the arrest of Janardhana in September 2011.
Sriramulu's sister J. Shanta, who too had been openly backing the brother's party, is a BJP Lok Sabha member from Bellary.
With the BJP prospects of retaining power in the assembly appearing bleak, the party and the two Reddy brothers may stick together as neither has anything to gain by a break-up. - IANS