A new crisis stemming from the return of Lingayat strongman B S Yeddyurappa to the BJP has cropped up in the Karnataka unit of the party, with a senior Lingayat leader from Bidar voicing displeasure over his son being denied a ticket from the constituency.
Senior leader and former minister Gurupadappa Nagamarpalli, who followed Yeddyurappa out of the BJP in 2013 to create the rival Karnataka Janata Party, has served a two-day ultimatum to the former chief minister to ensure that his son Suryakant Nagamarpalli is granted the Bidar ticket.
The veteran leader, who was a Congress minister till a few years ago and the BJP contestant from Bidar in the 2009 polls, is threatening to go his own way if his son is not given the ticket.
Nagamarpalli, who was one of the six MLAs elected on a KJP ticket and one of the four who returned to the BJP this year, claimed that Yeddyurappa promised the Bidar seat for his son during the process of merging the KJP back with the BJP.
Nagamarpalli claimed it was his return to the BJP that enabled the party to become the principal opposition party in the state.
One of the two Nagamarpallis — Gurupadappa or his son Suryakant — were widely expected to be fielded on a BJP ticket in their home turf against the Congress’s former chief minister Dharam Singh, a Rajput, and the JD(S) backward caste leader Bandeppa Kashempur in a constituency dominated by the Lingayat community.
The party state unit had in fact recommended the candidature of Nagamarpalli to the central unit. The BJP, while announcing candidates for 26 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka over the past couple of weeks, had not announced its candidate for Bidar.
On Friday, the BJP declared Bhagavantha Khuba, a Lingayat and the district vice-president of the party, as the Bidar candidate in recognition of his work in different organisational capacities. The declaration of Khuba’s candidature resulted in supporters of Nagamarpalli allegedly ransacking the party office in Bidar.
The Bidar seat, along with Tumkur and Udupi Chikamagalur, were the seats where Yeddyurappa had been insisting on fielding his close associates as the official BJP candidates.
The party state unit had initially resisted Yeddyurappa’s demand to field G S Basavaraju in Tumkur but had not raised objections to fielding Nagamarpalli’s son in Bidar and close Yeddyurappa aide Shobha Karandlaje in Udupi Chikamagalur.
Yeddyurappa, in the course of a meeting of the state election committee, had warned the BJP leadership of serious consequences in the Lingayat-dominated districts of the state if it failed to field G S Basavraju in Tumkur. The central leadership had agreed to Yeddyurappa’s demand and named Basavaraj as the Tumkur BJP candidate last week.
In a meeting with Nagamarpalli, the former CM has assured the sulking leader that he would speak to the party’s leadership.
Sources in the BJP said Khuba was picked since Nagamarpalli’s son did not enjoy a good reputation in Bidar and the veteran leader, who is already an MLA, had refused to give up his Assembly seat in favour of the parliamentary seat. “When the BJP’s top leaders have not acceded to the demands of L K Advani and Jaswant Singh, there is little hope for Nagamarpalli,” sources said.