Bengaluru: The Ballari BJP unit this time has decided to field former Kampli MLA and close confidante of Reddy brothers, Suresh Babu against the Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha election. Though Suresh Babu claimed that he is unaware of this, his patron Ballari strongman B Sriramulu has confirmed that Suresh Babu is one such name that the BJP is planning to field.

"I have not received any information about my name being floated for the MP elections. It is left to party leaders in general and my political mentors B Sriramulu and Gali Janardhana Reddy. I will go by what they say. As of now, I am only focused on fighting MLA elections from Ballari district," said Babu.

Suresh Babu a two-time MLA from Kampli lost to JN Ganesh in the Assembly election held in May and campaigned for B Sriramulu's sister J Shantha in the by-election. 

Sources say that his patron and mentor, Sriramulu, has been gathering support and is keen on getting a ticket for Babu to contest for Ballari MP seat. "This time we will win in Ballari and as Suresh Babu belongs to Ballari and is a well-known personality, he is being considered," said B Sriramulu.

It is not sure who the Congress will field from Ballari against the Reddy brothers. As the Congress has not committed to fielding VS Ugrappa in Ballari in 2019, the Reddy brothers will have the advantage of an early campaign.

When Ugrappa was asked about his fate, he seemed confident of obtaining a ticket and said that he is currently a sitting MP and has laid out a roadmap for development of Ballari district.

"It was my effort that made Government of Karnataka grant Rs 5,000 crore for project work in Ballari. I thank the chief minister for taking the initiative to develop Ballari. I have also lobbied for a food park and the improvement of railway connectivity to improve tourism as we are home to a world heritage site; Hampi. If everything falls in place, it will generate employment for at least one lakh people in Ballari. If I do get a chance again, I will be the voice of Ballari. It is left to people to choose," said Ugrappa.

What do the numbers say?

In 2014, B Sriramulu obtained 5,34,406 votes against Congress candidate NY Hanumanthappa who received 4,49,262 votes. After the 2019 Assembly elections B Sriramulu won from Molakalmuru. The by-election was necessitated. Reddy brothers fielded J Shantha and Congress fielded VS Ugrappa. Having won six MLA seats from Ballari district and with the support of minister DK Shivakumar who took charge to resurrect Congress to power in Ballari, Ugrappa won with a thumping majority.

In the by-election, Ugrappa secured 6,28,365 and J Shantha obtained 3,85,204 votes.

Current situation indicates turmoil:

Kudligi MLA B Nagendra, Kampli MLA JN Ganesh, and Bhima Nayak from Hagariommanahalli camped in Mumbai a few days ago indicating a possible switch to the BJP. This no doubt had the Congress feeling jittery. However, Congress leaders were quick enough to bring them back. The effort to retain all legislators by housing them in a resort resulted in an unfortunate incident where MLAs were involved in a drunken brawl. Anand Singh, Vijaynagar MLA was injured after JN Ganesh allegedly hit him with the bottle. Lack of unity among Congress MLAs may upset Congress big time in the upcoming election.

Party's strategy:

Congress will go all out to highlight the case against Suresh Babu. Babu was arrested in 2014 after CBI charged him for being involved in illegal mining and ore export. The BJP will use the outsider card against Ugrappa and also highlight how Congress MLAs are fighting each other for a berth in the cabinet.