Lingayat strongman BS Yeddyurappa has earned a much-needed reprieve, with the BJP’s central leadership throwing its weight behind him in a conflict that was threatening to tear the party’s Karnataka unit apart.
BJP head honchos on Saturday evening decided to take disciplinary action against four senior functionaries from both the factions in what was seen as a tough measure to resolve the intra-party feud between Yeddyurappa and former state unit chief KS Eshwarappa. Two of them — Bhanuprakash and Nirmal Kumar Surana — were state vice-presidents known to be close to Eshwarappa as well as BJP national joint general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh.
In a balancing act, the apex leadership also asked Raitha Morcha vice-president MP Renukacharya and spokesperson G Madhusudan to step down for allegedly targeting Santhosh.
The move came on a day when BJP general secretary Muralidhar Rao, also the in-charge for Karnataka, arrived in Bangalore to hold parleys with both sides. “This is a big victory for Yeddyurappa and a setback for Santhosh,” a close aide of the Lingayat strongman told HT.
Yeddyurappa has accused Santhosh of encouraging Eshwarappa to organise a ‘Save BJP’ convention on Thursday, where as many as 24 sulking leaders took turns to flay the party’s state leadership. They even accused Yeddyurappa of favouring sycophants over those who have worked their way through the ranks.
The rivalry between the two factions dates back to 2008, when Yeddyurappa was the chief minister and Santhosh was the BJP’s “sangathan mantri” for Karnataka. The RSS leader had even opposed Yeddyurappa’s entry into the party ahead of the Lok Sabha election.
Yeddyurappa’s detractors in the party finally felt emboldened enough to strike when the BJP was decimated by the Congress in the bypolls to two assembly seats in Karnataka recently. They accused him of running the party like a “private company” by not consulting other senior members.
“I repeat and reiterate that there is no need for anybody to float any organisation outside the BJP, be it a forum brigade or any other. This is an instruction from the central leadership,” a statement issued by Rao said.
Karnataka was the first southern state to get a BJP government in 2008. It is scheduled to go to the polls in May next year.