Janaradhana Reddy’s close aide B. Sriramulu is speculated to be a contender for the deputy Chief Minister’s post if the BJP returns to power.
Janaradhana Reddy’s younger brother G. Somashekhara Reddy’s name in the first list of candidates declared by the BJP in Karnatka may have raised a few eyebrows but certainly didn’t ring any alarm bells. Somashekhara Reddy had been given the ticket from Bellary city.
But it was the second and third lists of candidates declared by the party that led to a media frenzy. Reddy’s Man Friday B. Sriramulu was given ticket from two seats—Molakalmuru and Badami (in a direct fight with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah)—and Reddy’s relatives Sanna Fakeerappa, Lallesh Reddy and Suresh Babu were also accommodated as candidates. His elder brother G. Karunakara Reddy has also been given ticket from Harapanahalli, attracting stories from the press which described the development as the “return of the Reddy brothers”.
It is for the first time that seven members from the Reddy clan are in the race for becoming MLAs. The decision made even many BJP leaders uncomfortable, but since the decision was taken by the central leadership none questioned it.
However, AICC general secretary Ashish Dua told The Sunday Guardian that “The Reddy brothers played a big role in making the Yeddyurappa government corrupt and in bringing disrepute to Karnataka. By giving them tickets and making them their brand ambassadors in Karnataka in 2018 , the BJP has proven its disrespect for the Kannadigas.”
The question everyone is asking is what makes Janardhana Reddy so powerful. It’s definitely not the money power alone, especially since most of the known bank accounts of the Reddy family have been frozen and other assets have been attached by the CBI during its ongoing investigation into the mining scams which surfaced after Justice Santosh Hegde, Lokayukta, submitted his report.
Given the cases and the charges, Janradhan Reddy has emerged even stronger politically. After spending almost four years in jail as an under-trial, Janardhana Reddy has not only managed to come out, but call the shots in the state unit of the party.
The Sunday Guardian learnt that a few months ago after getting some relief in the cases against him and coming out of jail, Janardhana Reddy declared before his inner circle that it was now a personal battle between him and Siddaramaiah and that he would “teach him a lesson” in the next Assembly elections.
The whispers in the party circle are that B. Sriramulu is being pitched as a deputy Chief Minister in case the party comes back to power in the state.
Political analysts in the state feel that the split in the Lingayat votes, which is an outcome of the Congress advocating their separate religion demand, has reduced the capability of former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to bring the party back to power. It is this reason that prompted the BJP to rely on the Reddy brothers to achieve its goal. The Reddy brothers enjoy a lot of clout in Bellary, Chitradurga, Gadagand, Raichur districts. Bellary MP B. Sriramulu, who merged his BSR Congress party with BJP a year back, is a popular leader among the Scheduled Tribes. It’s his influence which can help the BJP in 15-20 seats.