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Karnataka BJP rift widens: Eshwarappa meets anti-Yeddyurappa faction

LiveMint logoLiveMint 28-04-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: Defying Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) diktat, leader of opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council K.S. Eshwarappa on Thursday attended a meeting of legislators opposed to Karnataka BJP president and former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, inviting sharp criticism and possible disciplinary action from the senior leadership of the party.

The widening rift in the state BJP could dent its prospects of returning to power in 2018 assembly elections and also threatens to put the brakes on the remarkable run of the party in other state and local body elections in recent months.

Eshwarappa on Thursday said that Yeddyurappa should shed his Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) strategy where his supporters promoted “personality over party”, now that he has returned to the saffron party.

“If you do not return to the BJP and work towards strengthening the BJP, we may have to relive resort politics,” Eshwarappa said, in a veiled reference to former tourism minister and mining baron G.Janardhana Reddy’s move in 2010 to withdraw support to Yeddyurappa’s government by whisking away legislators to a nearby resort to arm-twist the government.

Both Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa have shared a cold relationship since 2008, the first time BJP came to power in the state.

“The (dissidents) meeting was conducted and Eshwarappa attended this despite the party’s warnings. This is in violation of the party’s conduct. We want the central leadership to take strong action against this,” P.C.Mohan, Member of Parliament from Bengaluru Central constituency and a pro-Yeddyurappa supporter told reporters at the party headquarters in Bengaluru on Thursday.

The state BJP on Wednesday had warned the dissident faction, led by Eshwarappa, not to take part in the proposed meeting on Thursday which would be construed as “anti-party activities”.

BJP national president Amit Shah in January had intervened to resolve the bickering between the two top leaders after Yeddyurappa objected to the formation of the Sangolli Rayanna brigade, a movement based on an 18th century freedom fighter from the Kuruba community, to mobilize backward class votes.

The situation worsened when Eshwarappa complained that his nominees for the posts of president and other office-bearers in various districts were sidelined by Yeddyurappa, resulting in many raising questions and openly criticising the Lingayat strongman, who is also the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2018 elections.

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