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Nov 30, 2011 at 10:34am IST

Bellary bypoll: can Sriramulu divide BJP vote?

Bangalore: Bellary has turned into a fortress ahead of Tuesday's bypoll and it's a litmus test for the BJP as many of the party MLAs have been supporting independent candidate Sriramulu who's being backed by the Reddy brothers.

Sriramulu, a close aide of the Reddy brothers and a former BJP minister resigned three months ago. It's also the first poll after the illegal mining expose in Karnataka, and a lot rests on Sriramulu's fate.

State Congress president G Parameshwara said, "There'll be a fallout on the political situation in Karnataka, I see a definite change in government even government may fall because equations may change."

Sriramulu may be out of the BJP but the party is seeing open defection in the district with many of its MLAs and even the MP campaigning for him. While some have been suspended, the BJP candidate Gadilingappa has seen little support so far.

The BJP's chances hinge on former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa who agreed to campaign at the last moment, and its hopes remain on the fact that even if they lose this bypoll, no party wants to face a mid-term poll in the state right now.

BJP MP V Dhananjay Kumar said, "With the stringent provisions of the anti-defection act, I don't think many will go out of the BJP, at this juncture general election is hardly one and half years."

Meanwhile, the dark horse in this race is the Congress' B Ramprasad.

It's not the Bellary by-election in itself that's being keenly watched. If Sriramulu wins, he will always keep the threat of pulling away more BJP MLAs looming over the government and if he loses, whichever party gains the upper hand in the mining heartland could change the course of Karnataka politics.