The BJP state unit is learnt to have decided to field Lingayat leader and former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa from Shimoga constituency currently represented by his son in Lok Sabha.
The understanding to this affect, sources said, was arrived at a meeting of top BJP leaders from the state — Karnataka unit chief Prahlad Joshi and former CMs Yeddyurappa, Sadananda Gowda and Jagadish Shettar, among others — with party chief Rajnath Singh in Delhi recently. The meeting discussed candidates for all 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state but there was unanimity on only about a dozen.
“The understanding when he was taken back into the party was that his son will be fielded from Shimoga. But now, it has been decided to field Yeddyurappa,” a source present at the meeting said.
Sources said Yeddyurappa confidante Shobha Karandlaje also wanted to contest Lok Sabha election but the decision was still to be made, while his loyalist and four-term MP G Basavaraj was denied ticket from Tumkur.
The BJP had earlier indicated Yeddyurappa will not contest to keep party patriarch L K Advani and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj in good humour. Both leaders were reportedly against his re-entry into the party.
In fact, sources said, it took a series of meetings by Joshi and Rajnath for Advani to agree. Senior BJP leaders from Karnataka said it was for the party central election committee (CEC) to consider the possibility of the Aam Aadmi Party turning the candidature of Yeddyurappa into an issue at the national level. “It is for this reason a final call will be taken by the CEC. But all senior state leaders have agreed to field Yeddyurappa from Shimoga,” a source said.
The BJP hopes to woo the influential Lingayat community by fielding Yeddyurappa. The meeting is learnt to have also finalised the candidature of Sadananda Gowda, who belongs to the second-most influential Vokkaliga community, from Udupi-Chikmagalur.
Rajnath is also learnt to have promised the state leaders to try and persuade Swaraj into allowing the merger of BSR Congress of former minister B Sriramulu into the BJP.
The meeting also put to rest speculation on senior party leader Ananth Kumar changing his constituency considering the possibility of the Congress fielding UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani against him. Kumar, sources said, told the meeting that he will contest from Bangalore South. Joshi should contest from his Dharwad constituency.
The BJP had won 19 seats in the the state in 2009 when Yeddyurappa was the chief minister.