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Karnataka: K.S. Eshwarappa threatens to intensify stir against B.S. Yeddyurappa

LiveMint logoLiveMint 01-05-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: Factionalism in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka is spiraling out of control. K.S. Eshwarappa, leader of the opposition in the legislative council, on Monday threatened to intensify protests from 20 May if the demands of the rebel faction is not met.

The Eshwarappa camp has openly questioned state BJP president and former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s style of functioning and his choice in appointing district level functionaries, sidelining what Eshwarappa called the “real workers” of the party. The Yeddyurappa faction, on the other hand, has accused Eshwarappa of anti-party activity and warned the former state BJP president of disciplinary action.

Eshwarappa also accuses the senior BJP leadership including Karnataka in-charge P. Muralidhar Rao of doublespeak—developments that do not augur well for the saffron party ahead of its state executive meet in Mysuru on 6-7 May.

“The protests (after 20 May) will be to get the attention of the central leadership as we will be left with no other choice,” Eshwarappa said.

Rao and the central leadership had sacked four senior functionaries from both camps in an abortive bid to try and deal with the situation ahead of the 2018 state polls.

“He (Rao) and Yeddyurappa were also there on 27 January, when we met Amit Shah in Delhi. Shah said that the Sangolli Rayanna Brigade must continue as it will benefit the party but through the OBC (other backward classes) morcha. Shah only said that the brigade should not be used for political activities,” Eshwarappa told Mint on Monday.

On Sunday, Rao said that “there was no need for anybody to float any organization outside the party—call it forum, call it brigade or give any name” in reaction to Eshwarappa attending a dissenters meeting on 27 April in disregard of warnings from the party.

Eshwarappa and Yeddyurappa have been involved in a bitter battle since 2008, when the party first came to power in Karnataka. But it was only in April last year that the fight gained notoriety with Eshwarappa initiating the Sangolli Rayanna brigade, a movement based on an 18th century freedom fighter from the Kuruba community, to mobilize backward class votes. Yeddyurappa objected to the formation of this brigade which continues to be the bone of contention between the two factions.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Yeddyurappa said that “this confusion” will end within the next few days and that it will play out again as the national leadership will take appropriate action, Press Trust of India reported.

Rao, who is expected to submit a report to the central leadership on the matter, could not be reached for comment.

Eshwarappa says there is no question of him being expelled or trying to split the party as he was only trying to save the organization from the “autocratic” ways of Yeddyurappa.

Yeddyurappa on Friday blamed senior Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh functionary B.L. Santosh of engineering the rift, a charge vehemently denied by Eshwarappa.

The growing friction between the two leaders comes even as the party tries to recover from the drubbing it received at the hands of Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah in the 9 April bypolls in Nanjangud and Gundlupet.

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