The return of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa after a year of estrangement has created deep divisions in the state unit of the BJP in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls – especially on the choice of candidates for a dozen of the 28 seats in Karnataka.
Yeddyurappa, who abandoned his Karnataka Janata Party experiment to rejoin the BJP last month, ostensibly to strengthen Narendra Modi, is locked in a battle with the state leadership to accord primacy to his supporters.
Yeddyurappa had announced in January that he was returning to the BJP without conditions but is now demanding tickets for his close aides, creating much tension in the party.
At a meeting of the state leadership Monday to short list candidates for parliament polls, the former CM pushed for Tumkur MP G S Basavaraj who is facing resistance.
Party sources said there were differences on the choice of candidates for several seats in north Karnataka, where the Lingayat community, whose Yeddyurappa is considered a leader, is dominant.
In the Bangalore North constituency, former BJP home minister R Ashok is pitted against Yeddyurappa camp members former CM D V Sadananda Gowda and Shobha Karandlaje.
Ashok has been vocal in his opposition to attempts to field Gowda or Karandlaje in Bangalore North from where sitting MP D B Chandre Gowda is also keen to contest again.
“Some in the Yeddyurappa group like Sadananda Gowda and Shobha Karandlaje have this tendency of jumping seats. They do not stay in one constituency,’’ a BJP leader said.
“There is a feeling that some senior BJP leaders who win from Karnataka can become central ministers since the party is tipped to do well in parliament polls. There is intense competition for tickets, as a result,’’ sources said.
While the BJP has been trying to convince Yeddyurappa to contest from the Shimoga constituency represented by his son B Y Raghavendra, the former CM is not showing interest and is more keen on his supporters getting tickets.
“Yeddyurappa wants his supporters to be fielded in four to five north Karnataka constituencies. The party is keen that he should contest from Shimoga. It will go by certain ground calculations and things will be resolved,’’ a BJP source said.
“I have not decided on being the BJP candidate for Shimoga. The right candidate will be decided by the party,’’ Yeddyurappa said Monday.
The BJP is expected to finalise candidates for 20 of the 28 seats in about 10 days. Party PM candidate Modi is set to address two rallies in Davangere and Mangalore on February 12.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines