BALLARI: Now that the battle for Ballari is over, answers are being sought about what caused Congress candidate Ugrappa’s massive victory over BJP’s J Shantha, the sister of party leader B Sriramulu.
Congress surprised many by announcing that MLC V S Ugrappa, widely considered an outsider, would be the coalition candidate. It launched an aggressive campaign, and the entire cabinet descended upon Ballari. Congress faced several challenges, including the displeasure nursed by local MLAs against district in-charge minister D K Shivakumar. Sriramulu attacked him, saying that ‘Kanakapura’s Gowda’ will not sustain here. However, Shivakumar said, “All our MLAs are working hard for the victory of our candidate. There is no dissidence in the party.”
This was perceived as a diktat or a hidden message for the MLAs. Congress sources said that the MLAs were told that one who fetched more votes will be made a minister. It appears that they competed with each other to get more votes for the party.
Ugrappa, who got 6,28,163 votes, the most in Ballari elections, bagged his highest -- 85,140 votes -- from the Sandur assembly constituency, followed by Kampli (84,466 votes), Ballari rural (83,918), Vijayanagara (83,832), Hagaribommanahalli (83,364) and Hadagali (70,598).
On the other hand, the mood in the BJP camp was muted. District BJP President Channabasavanagouda said, “The party workers are working at the booth level. They are not like Congress workers who will be present before any leader who comes to Ballari.”
The worst came from Gali Janardhan Reddy, which the BJP cadre also believes spelt disaster for BJP. In an interview, he targeted Siddaramaiah, saying that the latter was responsible for his imprisonment and was punished by his son’s death. With the exception of V Somanna, who stayed back until the elections were over, many others exited the scene after making a few statements.