It’s Siddaramaiah vs Sriramulu: Familiar foes trade barbs ahead of Ballari bye-polls

Congress’ nominee VS Ugrappa, a Siddaramaiah loyalist, will face BJP MLA Sriramulu's sister J Shantha in the bye-polls on November 3.
It’s Siddaramaiah vs Sriramulu: Familiar foes trade barbs ahead of Ballari bye-polls
It’s Siddaramaiah vs Sriramulu: Familiar foes trade barbs ahead of Ballari bye-polls
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The campaigning for the bye-polls to determine the Lok Sabha seat in Ballari vacated by BJP leader B Sriramulu intensified on Monday after both the BJP and the Congress held rallies in the district. The bye-polls for the seat was expected to be a showdown between Sriramulu and Water Resources and Medical Education Minister DK Shivakumar, who is the District Minister-in-charge of Ballari. 

However, after the Congress opted to nominate VS Ugrappa for the bye-elections, instead of Shivakumar's preferred candidate Venkatesh Prasad, the campaign has now turned into a showdown between Sriramulu and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Ugrappa, who is considered a Siddaramaiah loyalist, is facing Sriramulu's sister J Shantha of the BJP in the bye-polls scheduled for November 3.

Siddaramaiah addressed a rally in Hampasagara in Ballari on Monday, where he criticised BJP MLA Sriramulu, claiming that the BJP leader was inactive in the Assembly.

Siddaramaiah campaigning at Hampasagara in Ballari

Siddaramaiah said, “Sriramulu has not spoken in the Lok Sabha or the Assembly on even one day. Even Shanta, who is the BJP candidate and was previously in the Lok Sabha, has not spoken up earlier. Do you want to send them there for decoration?”

The jibe by Siddaramaiah elicited an immediate response from Sriramulu, who pointed out that his attendance in the Lok Sabha was the same as Congress President Rahul Gandhi, which, according to him is 52%. He also pointed out that he had asked 572 questions while Rahul had asked none.

“I wonder if you are sleeping when I speak in the Assembly. I am among the top MPs in the state, who make proper use of funds. I have participated in 20 Lok Sabha debates and asked 572 questions. Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, has participated in just 12 debates and has not even asked a question,” Sriramulu said after a roadshow in Hosapete in Ballari on Monday.

Siddaramaiah also pointed out that the fact that Ugrappa is not from Ballari will not make a difference in the elections. "If Ugrappa is considered an outsider, then what about Sriramulu, who contested against me in Badami? Even before Sriramulu was born, Ugrappa had made his debut in politics. If Ugrappa goes to the Lok Sabha, he will speak for Ballari there. If Shantha goes, that will not happen," he said. He further added that in spite of having a BJP government in the Centre, Sriramulu has not been able to implement projects in Ballari. 

Sriramulu was the MP of Ballari from 2014 till he contested in the State Assembly elections earlier this year from nearby Molakalmuru. He was elected as an MLA and vacated his MP seat in Ballari as a result.

Sriramulu campaigning at Hosapete in Ballari

Sriramulu was also chosen by the BJP to contest the State Assembly elections from Badami against then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Even though he lost by a thin margin (1620 votes), he was the only BJP leader to contest from two constituencies and is emerging as a major BJP leader in North Karnataka. He is seen as a top leader of the Valmiki community and is popular in several districts of northern Karnataka.

 The two familiar foes are now up against each other again with their preferred candidates facing off against each other in the bye-polls for the Ballari Lok Sabha seat.

The JD(S), which does not have a significant presence in Ballari, has not nominated a candidate due to its alliance with the Congress in the elections.

Elections 2023

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