Mining baron and former Karnataka Minister Gali Janardhana Reddy has left Molakalmuru in Chitradurga reportedly after an order from BJP's central leadership.
Janardhana Reddy was campaigning for close friend B Sriramulu, who is contesting for the BJP from the constituency. He was also present during a road rally and when Sriramulu filed his nomination papers.
Janardhana's involvement in the BJP's campaign has courted controversy over the last few weeks.
Janardhana is the prime accused in the 2011 Ballari mining scam reported by Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde. He was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation for his involvement in the scam and is currently out on bail. As per his bail conditions, he cannot enter Ballari, the heart of his mining empire.
BJP President Amit Shah had earlier claimed that the party "had no relationship with Janardhana Reddy,” while campaigning in Mysuru on March 31.
In spite of that, Janardhana Reddy has been actively touring villages in Molakalmuru along with Sriramulu and was also seen sharing a stage with BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa on April 21. He has even taken up residence on the border of Ballari and Chitradurga to help Sriramulu's campaign.
While the BJP has defended Janardhana Reddy’s involvement in the campaign and has claimed that he was only doing it as Sriramulu’s friend, the narrative surrounding the campaign has embarrassed the BJP. It appears that Shah does not want to be directly associated with Janardhana.
The BJP president cancelled his proposed visit to Ballari on Friday in an apparent attempt to distance himself from the Reddy family. Janardhana's brother Somashekara Reddy is contesting for the BJP from Ballari city.
Janardhana Reddy was not available at his temporary residence in Molakalmuru on Friday and according to sources in the BJP, he is currently maintaining a low profile.
However, he is reportedly set to return to Molakalmuru after Shah's visit to the district.
He is also facing a complaint from the Congress for reportedly comparing Sriramulu to Lord Ram and Siddaramaiah to Lord Ravana in one of his speeches.