The Karnataka state unit of the BJP announced late Saturday it was relieving four senior functionaries of their responsibilities within the party, ostensibly with the backing of the party’s central leadership.
The move came on a day when Muralidhar Rao, in-charge of the BJP’s affairs in Karnataka, arrived in Bengaluru to begin consultations to stop a factional feud that has taken centre stage in the party state unit.
Party functionaries MB Bhanuprakash, Nirmal Kumar Surana, MP Renukacharya and G Madhusudan were relieved of their posts, according to the announcement. Bhanuprakash and Surana were state vice-presidents, while Renukacharya was leader of the farmers’ cell, and Madhusudan a spokesperson.
Simmering factional feud boiled over on Thursday after a group of 24 party leaders held a ‘Save’ BJP conference, where many criticised the leadership of state unit president BS Yeddyurappa. The critics of former chief minister Yeddyurappa alleged that he was favouring his aides over those who had worked their way through the ranks.
On Sunday, the BJP warned the state unit leaders not to speak to the press without permission. In a statement, the party also distanced itself from the Rayanna Brigade, an organisation of Other Backward Classes formed under the supervision of KS Eshwarappa, former state president of the party. This brigade is perceived to be the cause of the rift between Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa.
Attempts, however, seem to have been made to placate both sides because the four leaders relieved of their posts apparently belong to both factions. A party source who did not wish to be named said, “Bhanuprakash and Surana were punished for attending the ‘Save’ BJP meet, while Madhusudan and Renukacharya, a close aide of Yeddyurappa, were punished for criticising BL Santosh, national joint general secretary (organisation).”
Eshwarappa who spoke at the ‘Save’ BJP meet — and is being seen as the leader of the faction critical of Yeddyurappa — told HT on Sunday it was unfortunate that senior leaders such as Bhanuprakash and Surana were being punished. “These are people who have been pracharaks of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and whose children are now working in the RSS.”
Surana said he had not yet received a copy of the order relieving him of his post. “I will be able to comment once I receive it.”
Karnataka is the first southern state in which the BJP came to power on its own – in the 2008 elections – and is scheduled to go polls in May next year. On a winning spree this year, the BJP is keen to launch its battle for south India from here.