Top brass enters picture as BS Yediyurappa, BY Vijayendra fail to contain rebels in Karnataka

Yediyurappa could not convince MLAs ST Somashekar of the Yeshwanthpur segment in Bengaluru and Shivaram Hebbar of Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district, to stay back in BJP.
Former chief minister BS Yediyurappa
Former chief minister BS Yediyurappa (File photo)

BENGALURU: Even as the BJP national leadership is trying to patch up differences between former chief minister BS Yediyurappa and his rivals in certain Lok Sabha constituencies, the confusion prevails.

In Shivamogga, the standoff continues between the factions aligned to Yediyurappa and KS Eshwarappa, a former BJP minister, contesting as an independent against Yediyurappa’s son and sitting MP BY Raghavendra. Eshwarappa claims that the party high command has given him a ‘silent assent’ to contest.

In Hassan, BJP state in-charge Radhamohandas Agarwal reached out to former MLA Preetham J Gowda, who is BJP state general secretary and a loyalist of party state president BY Vijayendra. Preetham had turned hostile against sitting MP Prajwal Revanna, the BJP-JDS alliance candidate from the Hassan constituency. Preetham has since been shifted as in charge of Mysuru-Kodagu and Chamarajanagar Lok Sabha constituencies to control the damage. Agarwal said Preetham will campaign for Prajwal in select places, if needed.

In an effort to cash in on the differences within BJP, Deputy Chief Minister and Congress state president DK Shivakumar, during his visit to Hassan recently, asked Preetham to be careful while backing Prajwal in the bastion of the Vokkaliga community, to which both Preetham and Shivakumar belong.

In Tumakuru, Agarwal  on Saturday met former minister and Yediyurappa loyalist JC Madhuswamy, who was an aspirant for the ticket and is now upset with the party picking S Somanna. Agarwal passed on the message from Union Home Minister Amit Shah to Madhuswamy that Somanna is his candidate.

Madhuswamy, who did not meet Somanna, received Congress candidate SP Muddahanume Gowda on Sunday. “We are long-time friends and he sought my support. But how can I commit to it, being in a different party,” Madhuswamy asked. He has been shifted as in charge of the Udupi-Chikkamagaluru Lok Sabha constituency. In fact, the high command had asked Somanna not to contest, but he has taken the risk. Muddahanume Gowda, who was with BJP till recently, switched back to Congress after he got a clue that Somanna would be the BJP candidate.

BJP sources said the high command has intervened as Yediyurappa and Vijayendra have not been able to contain dissidence, including by their own loyalists.

Yediyurappa could not convince MLAs ST Somashekar of the Yeshwanthpur segment in Bengaluru and Shivaram Hebbar of Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district, to stay back in BJP. The two legislators have been in touch with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar to campaign for the Congress candidates.

In the meantime, BJP MLC Tejaswini Gowda resigned from her post to join Congress, while Shivakumar met another MLC KP Nanjundi on Sunday. Both were Yediyurappa loyalists. Even during the last Assembly polls, Yediyurappa could not stop the migration of a large section of BJP leaders to Congress. For the Lok Sabha elections too, there are murmurs within the party that Yediyurappa is focussing more on his choice of BJP candidates.

Before the Assembly elections, senior BJP leader Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and Kodagu-Mysuru MP Pratap Simha had raised the issue of ‘adjustment politics’, apparently targeting Yediyurappa, that cost the party dear. “The party high command managed to check the damage to an extent then. But if such allegations are true, Congress and BJP could win 14 seats each, out of the total 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. This could end the BJP’s alliance with JDS,” a leader observed.

If Congress scores in double digits in the Lok Sabha elections, both Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar will retain their positions, and Congress will remain in power. BJP will have to wait till the next Assembly elections to grab power, he added.

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