“Although the corruption taint does not matter locally, this may be a way to limit the potential damage it can cause nationally,” said a political analyst.

Did Amit Shah deliberately skip Ballari meet to avoid sharing stage with Reddy clan
Karnataka Elections Karnataka 2018 Friday, April 27, 2018 - 19:39

In March, BJP national president Amit Shah had disowned the Reddy brothers at a public meeting and said, “BJP has nothing to do with Janardhana Reddy”. 

But the ‘winnability’ formula in picking candidates and the “indispensability” of the Ballari’s Reddy clan ensured their inclusion in the BJP’s candidate list for the May 12 polls in Karnataka. 

In fact, not one but seven family members, close associates of the mining scam tainted Janardhana Reddy, find themselves contesting in these polls.

Other than the two brothers— Somasekhara (Bellary City) and Karunakar (Harpanahalli), their nephew Lallesh has got a ticket to contest in Bengaluru against Congress heavyweight Ramalinga Reddy at BTM Layout.

Sriramulu, the trusted lieutenant of Janardhana Reddy is not only contesting from Molkalmuru but is also engaged in a prestige battle against CM Siddaramaiah at Badami. 

But with the Congress crying foul, and the media scrutiny surrounding the development, has made the BJP apparently wary.

A rally by BJP President Amit Shah set to be held at Ballari city’s Royal Circle at 11am on Friday was called off, only adding credence to the theory. The rally was instead held in Koppal without any notice.

Channabasavanagowda, BJP district president for Ballari, said that party members had prepared for the Amit Shah rally. 

"All preparations were ready. We had cut out posters of Shah and had party flags brought in. We don't know why the rally did not happen as of now,” he said. 

Although Janardhana Reddy is barred from entering the district, had the rally happened, Amit Shah would have had to share the dais with his brothers and close associates and could have been jittery about the accompanying taint. 

A state-level party functionary however, refuses to admit that this was the case. 

Speaking to TNM, the leader said, “There is nothing much to read about it. Amit Shah got busy with party workers in Bengaluru and had left the city a little late. In order to maintain the remaining part of his schedule, he went to Koppal straightaway.”

Meanwhile, the Congress has been ruthless in its attack on the BJP by juxtaposing PM Modi’s claim against corruption, with the sudden return of the Reddy clan into the party fold. 

With BJP state president claiming that he has “pardoned” the Rs 50,000 crore mining scam accused, this has riled the Congress party’s feathers even more. 

In response, the first defence came from Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. Addressing a press conference, he said that Janardhana Reddy, undoubtedly the main man behind all this clout, was not a “star campaigner” but was campaigning only “for his friends” and not the party.

Speaking to TNM, a political analyst said, “This is a catch-22 situation for the BJP. The inclusion of the Reddy brothers itself was a desperate move. It is apparent that for their old Operation Kamala strategy, they need these men but they cannot do so publicly. Although the corruption taint does not matter locally, this may be a way to limit the potential damage it can cause nationally.”

“So their strategy is to get the Reddy brothers in, but distance the national leaders from them,” he added.

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