Ballari: Strange scenes were witnessed during the elections to the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Ballari on Wednesday. However, the Congress, which enjoys absolute majority but is divided, retained both the seats with the support of its arch rival BJP.
It was a pleasant surprise for the faction-ridden group led by Venkataramana to receive unsolicited support from the BJP, when all its five members and MP B. Sriramulu voted in favour of his group for the two posts.
In the process, Congress strongman and former Minister M. Diwakar Babu’s group suffered a severe setback. This yet again proved that the Congress is a divided house in the corporation council.
Earlier, two members from each one of the groups filed their nomination papers for the two top posts. To avoid embarrassment and also confusion, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee sent an observer to help achieve a patch-up between the groups.
Accordingly, after discussion a via media was arrived at and a whip was issued, through J. Anjaneyalu, president of the Ballari City District Congress Committee, to vote in favour of Mr. Venkataramana for the post of Mayor and Lakshmi for the post of Deputy Mayor. The whip was served on the members of the Diwakar Babu group, which had agreed to the coalition, and also to the four Congress legislators present. However, the whip was not served on the members of the other group.
On coming to know that the whip had not been served on the other group, the Diwakar Babu group, suspecting that something was fishy, raised objections. By the time it approached the observer, the election process had started. Due to its own folly it could not participate in the election proceedings after being denied entry by the Presiding Officer Amlan Aditya Biswas citing election rules.
As two members each had filed nomination papers for both the posts and the time for withdrawal had elapsed, Mr. Biswas conducted the election and declared Mr. Venkataramana elected Mayor and Umadevi Deputy Mayor.
Meanwhile, the Diwakar Babu group accused the party high command of betraying them by way of not asserting its rights properly in ensuring that the whip issued was adhered to. It also accused MLCs Allum Veerbhadrappa and K.C. Kondaiah of hatching a ploy to embarrass Diwakar Babu.
Earlier, in the absence of members from the Diwakar Babu group, Mr. Venkataramana polled 24 votes as against his absentee rival G. Srinivas polling zero votes.
Ms. Umadevi polled 20 votes, 16 votes more than her absentee rival Ms. Lakshmi. (The four votes she polled were cast by the four Congress legislators.)
Of the 40 members, including four legislators and MP, only 24 attended the election meeting.
All the 12 members of the Diwakar Babu group and also three independent and a Janata Dal (S) member could not participate in the election proceedings after being denied entry by Mr. Biswas, for arriving very late.