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The electoral moves have prompted the BJP to worry not just about its traditional rivals but also about people once considered to be their own.
The most recognisable Hindutva leader from Karnataka and a mining baron and former BJP minister are among those fighting against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Karnataka elections. The infighting has prompted the BJP to worry not just about its traditional rivals but also about people they once considered to be their own. Sri Rama Sena chief Pramod Muthalik announced that he will be contesting from Karkala in Udupi, where the sitting MLA is Sunil Kumar, the current Minister for Energy and Kannada and Culture in Karnataka.
Former BJP Minister and Ballari strongman Janardhana Reddy has floated a new party 'Kalyana Rajya Pragati Paksha' aiming to field candidates in the Kalyana Karnataka region of the state. The region comprises seven districts — Bidar, Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Bellary and Vijayanagara.
Sri Rama Sena returns to coastal Karnataka
Sri Rama Sena chief Pramod Muthalik, who launched the Hindutva group in Mangaluru in 2007, is no stranger to coastal Karnataka. The group made national and international headlines in 2009 when its members barged into a popular Mangaluru pub and beat up youngsters claiming the women were violating traditional values by being there. The incident led to Pramod Muthalik's arrest. Even though the court eventually acquitted him due to a lack of witnesses, it would spell the end for the Sri Rama Sena in Mangaluru.
With the second-in-command Prasad Attavar jailed in an extortion case and several key members of the organisation – Arun Kumar Puttila (State convener) and Suddatta Jain (convener) – quitting, Muthalik and the Sri Rama Sena shifted base to Hubballi in north Karnataka in 2010. In 2022, Pramod Muthalik was denied entry into Dakshina Kannada district due to his history of making communally provocative speeches.
So it comes as a surprise now that Pramod Muthalik is contesting the Karnataka elections in Karkala in the neighbouring Udupi district. "The Udupi unit of the Sri Rama Sena, which was not active for some time, is now having meetings to discuss the plans for campaigning for the elections," a member of the Sri Rama Sena in Udupi told TNM.
He will contest the election against Sunil Kumar Karkala, an influential BJP leader. Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru on February 4, Sunil Kumar questioned Pramod Muthalik’s decision to contest in Karkala. "Why is Pramod Muthalik contesting in the name of Hindutva? There is no need to explain who will benefit from it...(He) had contested against Ananth Kumar, a senior BJP leader. He had also contested against Pralhad Joshi and we all know how it ended for Muthalik," Sunil Kumar said.
Ballari city headed for a Reddy family contest?
In Ballari, former BJP minister Janardhana Reddy has not only floated a new party but is also fielding his wife Aruna Lakshmi in Ballari city assembly segment, where his elder brother G Somasekhara Reddy is the sitting BJP MLA. This appears to have created divisions in the influential Reddy family in Ballari.
Reddy himself plans to contest from Gangavathi in Koppal district due to court-imposed restrictions on his entry into Ballari, his home district. An accused in Karnataka’s multi-crore mining scam, Janardhana Reddy, booked by the CBI in 2011, was barred from entering Ballari in 2015 in accordance with his bail conditions.
He took up residence in a two-storeyed house in Hanagal, close to Molakalmuru in Chitradurga district which borders Ballari. In September 2022, the Supreme Court dismissed an application by Janardhana Reddy to allow him to "enter, stay and function" in Ballari district.
Janardhana Reddy is also close to Sriramulu, a current BJP minister who recently invited the people of Sindhanur (Raichur district) to participate in a programme organised by Janardhana Reddy's new party. The tweet from the minister’s official handle (@sriramulubjp), was, however, deleted after an hour of its posting. Sriramulu's supporters claimed that his account was hacked and the leader has since maintained the BJP has nothing to do with the new party.
But if the BJP decides to field Somashekara Reddy once again from Ballari city, it could be a straight fight between the family members in the upcoming elections.
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Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a Syndicated Feed and has not been created or edited By Azad Times Staff.