BENGALURU: “We want justice, Go back, Tejasvi Surya!” were some of the slogans raised on Tuesday as BJP’s candidate for Bangalore South visited Tejaswini Ananth Kumar before filing his nomination.
The surprise pick of the BJP left not just workers, but also state leaders, red-faced. The absence of senior leaders instrumental in the constituency, like R Ashoka, Satish Reddy and V Somanna from Tejasvi’s nomination filing rally, sent out the message of disappointment loud and strong.
Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar, who accompanied Tejasvi to Tejaswini’s residence, was almost mobbed by her supporters, “demanding justice.” The anger against the BJP central leadership for choosing Tejasvi over Tejaswini, who had already begun campaigning, is being felt among workers, supporters and leaders alike. “This decision has hurt workers who built the foundation of BJP in Karnataka. She had not asked for a ticket, they approached her and requested her to contest, and after she agreed, they have done this. It is very wrong. I am personally hurt,” said Basavraj Yatnal, BJP MLA, after meeting Tejaswini on Tuesday.
Even as the wife of former Union minister Ananth Kumar appealed to her supporters to back the party’s decision, the dissent was writ large. State president BS Yeddyurappa is also said to have claimed that the core committee members who shortlisted candidates, had only recommended Tejaswini’s name.
BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa said, “We had sent only one name. It was changed in Delhi.”
“The leadership would not have sidelined Ananth Kumar’s family, had they been Vokkaligas. They are absolutely sure that the Brahmin community will vote for them en masse, even if they didn’t accommodate Tejaswini, unlike Vokkaligas, who would rebel,” said a BJP office-bearer who refused to go campaigning on Tuesday.
Support, however, is also pouring in for Tejasvi Surya from his Yuva Morcha colleagues and friends, who are all praise for the BJP. Tejaswini, who told her supporters that the high command’s decision was “shocking”, urged them, however, to abide by its decision.
“They perhaps used the same logic when they selected Ananth Kumar as a candidate in 1996, when he contested for the first time. BJP is a dynamic living entity and it is so because it infuses fresh blood every single time,” said Tejasvi Surya, when asked why he thought the BJP leadership picked him.
“Irrespective of the dissidence, people will vote for him because they want Modi back. It is unfortunate that a new face has been given a seat with no challenges, when there is another contender who is more eligible,” said another BJP leader. While the anger is expected to cool down closer to elections, party insiders fear that consolidation of minority and Vokkaliga voters fuelled by Congress’ Ramalinga Reddy, and an angry camp comprising Ashoka, Somanna and Satish Reddy — who see a potential threat in Tejasvi Surya — could put the seat at risk for the BJP for the first time since 1991.
340 in fray in 14 seats
Tejasvi Surya (BJP) and Krishna Byre Gowda (Congress) rushed to file their papers on Tuesday, the last day to do so. In all, 340 candidates filed their papers for Phase 1 from Karnataka