Sreeramulu quits BJP in Karnataka

Bangalore: Trouble appeared brewing for the ruling BJP in Karnataka on Wednesday with former minister and trusted aide of mining barons Reddy brothers B Sreeramulu quitting the party after filing nomination as an Independent candidate for the Bellary Rural bypoll.

Sreeramulu resigned making known his displeasure over being sidelined and citing "humiliation" meted out to his business associate and jailed former minister G Janaradhana Reddy, whom he consulted before deciding to contest as an Independent in the November 30 bypoll.

In his resignation letter to BJP national and state chiefs Nitin Gadkari and K S Eshwarappa respectively, Sreeramulu recounted the struggle he and Reddy brothers made to demolish the Congress stronghold in the mine-rich Bellary district.

The state BJP had tried hard to persuade Sreeramulu to contest on the party ticket, but was not willing to accept his condition that he would be made a minister if he wins the bypoll.

Upset over his exclusion from the Sadananda Gowda Ministry, Sreeramulu had quit as MLA in August, causing the bypoll.

Giving vent to his anger at the state leaders, he said they did not come to his or Reddy's rescue when the Lokayukta report on illegal mining indicted them along with former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who quit over its findings.

"I have not betrayed the party. I had worked for the party and gave strength to it. But the party sidelined me, forcing me to seek re-election as an independent", he told reporters.

Sreeramulu filed his nomination to retain his Bellary Rural (ST) seat after rejecting the party's offer to field him.

The open support to Sreeramulu by BJP MPs J Shanta and Sanna Fakirappa of Raichur and MLAs Somashekara Reddy and H T Suresh Babu has increased worries for the ruling party.

After Sreeraumulu filed his nomination, Eshwarappa discussed the Bellary crisis with the party leaders including Yeddyurappa.

"Anyone going against the party would face expulsion, including Sreeramulu," he said.

Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda hinted at BJP fielding candidate against Sreeramulu.

The resignation by Sreeramulu, one of the influential Bellary trio -- Janardhana Reddy and his brother G Karunakara Reddy being the other two -- has come at a time when the faction-riven BJP is battling spate of corruption charges against Yeddyurappa and some ministers.

BJP state unit spokesman Prahald Joshi said the party was contemplating disciplinary action against MPs and MLAs supporting Sreeramulu.