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The independent candidate is expected to announce his decision on withdrawal today

With the candidature of Channabasappa R. Ballari, elder brother of Byadgi MLA Virupakshappa Ballari, likely to affect the prospects of the BJP candidate in the Hangal byelections, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held meetings with leaders of the party from Hangal, the Panchamasali community and the candidate himself in Davangere on Tuesday. Mr. Bommai seems to have negotiated a truce among those involved.

The Chief Minister, who reached the guesthouse of GM Institute of Technology on Monday night itself, held closed door meetings with MPs G.M. Siddeshwar and Shivakumar Udasi and Ministers Sunil Kumar, B.C. Patil and Muniratna and others. And, on Tuesday morning, he held meetings with Lingayat Panchamasali leaders Chandrashekhar Pujar and B.C. Umapathy and Ranebennur MLA Arun Kumar Pujar, who is also from Panchamasli Lingayat community.

And, subsequently, Mr. Bommai also held discussions with independent candidate Mr. Channabasappa Ballari, a former government official and brother of Byadgi MLA [Virupakshappa Ballari]. Mr. Channabasappa Ballari reportedly came to Davangere on being invited by the Chief Minister for talks.

Mr. Bommai told presspersons that he had come to Davangere for having discussions with Davangere leaders on some issues and also for reviewing preparations for the byelections to Hangal. “I had elaborate discussions with Davangere leaders on development issues and with Hangal leaders on the byelections. We have our strategy and we will win both the seats,” he said.

Mr. Bommai said that he shares a good rapport with Mr. Channabasappa Ballari and he was close to the Udasi family too. “We have known each other for 40 years now. As I told him that I am coming to Davangere and wanted to meet him, he came there out of love and respect for my father. I had discussions with him. And, he will take a decision after discussing it with community leaders and followers,” he said.

Going by indications it is evident that Mr. Channabasappa Ballari may withdraw his candidature on Wednesday, the last day for withdrawal of nomination papers. He, however, has not made any official announcement yet. He told presspersons that he will take the final decision after discussing the issue with leaders of Lingayat Panchamasali community.

He said that he was an aspirant for BJP ticket, but did not know why he was not considered. “I am contesting as an independent due to pressure from the community. I will announce my decision on Wednesday after discussions with community leaders. I am a friend of the Chief Minister. As Mr. Bommai is the Chief Minister, any debacle for the party in the election will not bring a good name to him. I will act according to what the community says,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Siddeshwar said that he was 99% sure that Mr. Channabasappa Ballari will withdraw his candidature.