New Delhi: A huge blow for the ruling BJP in Karnataka as the rebel candidate and Janardhana Reddy aide B Sriramulu is on course for a huge victory in the Bellary bypolls while the ruling BJP has routed in the mining heartland.
14 rounds of counting are over and final results are expected shortly.
All eyes are on Bellary as the results of the bypoll will be declared on Sunday and it could change Karnataka's political course as the by-polls are being seen as a litmus test for mining barons, the Reddy brothers.
Their aide B Sriramulu, who quit the BJP, contested the bypoll elections as an Independent candidate. Sriramulu had quit the party after he was denied a ministerial berth following his indictment along with the Reddy brothers in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining.
Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda may have downplayed the impact of the bypoll elections on his government, but the truth is that many BJP MLAs and MPs in the district are supporting Sriramulu.
Besides Sreeramulu and Gadilingappa, the other candidate is Congress' Ramaprasad.
BJP sources said the party is in talks with five Independent legislators to secure support in case Sreeramulu wins and his supporters pose a threat to the government's stability.
The five were sacked from the Ministry in 2010 after they aligned with party dissidents and withdrew support to the government. They were among the 16 MLAs disqualified. But the Supreme Court restored their membership in May this year.
The bypoll was necessitated when Sreeramulu, a trusted lieutenant of mining barons G Janardhana Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy, quit Assembly membership after being denied a ministerial berth following his indictment along with the Reddy brothers in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining.
Janardhana Reddy is presently lodged in a Hyderabad jail after being arrested by CBI in an illegal mining case.
(With additional inputs from PTI)