Dissident BJP leader Eshwarappa remains defiant

PTI Feeds
Dissident BJP leader Eshwarappa remains defiant

Bengaluru, May 2 (PTI) BJP leader KS Eshwarappa, who is leading a battle against the party’s Karnataka unit chief BS Yeddyuappa’s style of functioning, has decided to take part in the activities of the ‘Rayanna Brigade’, ignoring the central leadership’s diktat.

The ‘Rayanna Brigade’ is an “apolitical forum” of Dalits and backward classes, which was floated by Eshwarappa in an apparent show of strength in his battle against Yeddyurappa, a former chief minister.

“Sangolli Rayanna Brigade and Sangolli Rayanna Yuva Brigade office-bearers’ meets will take place on May 8 in Raichur. As a preparatory step, some leaders are meeting at Raichur today…. I’m attending the preparatory meeting,” Eshwarappa said today.

He was speaking to reporters after paying obeisance at the Raghavendra Swami mutt, near the Karnataka-Andhra border.

The BJP had yesterday issued a statement, barring the party members from participating in the activities of the Rayanna Brigade. It had also instructed its functionaries not to organise any activity connected with any such organisation.

Later, Eshwarappa told reporters at Raichur that BJP chief Amit Shah had not opposed the activities of the ‘Rayanna Brigade’ and that he was only following his instructions.

“…I will not cross a line against the (BJP) national president’s directions. I have been following his instructions. He had asked us to continue (with the brigade activities). The brigade is emerging as a forum of Dalits and backward classes,” he said.

Claiming that the Congress would not have come to power in the state had Yeddyurappa not floated the Karnataka Janata Paksha, Eshwarappa said that a “united BJP” could once again form the government in Karnataka.

“The people have realised that the organisation is strong if it is united…by uniting the BJP, we will once again come to power, despite the Congress and the JD(S) joining hands,” he said, citing the party winning 17 of the 30 parliamentary seats post the merger.

Resentment has been brewing within the Karnataka BJP over Yeddyurappa’s “unilateral” style of functioning after he appointed office-bearers, “ignoring” the loyal workers and the old guard of the party.

It had intensified as a factional feud on April 27 with Eshwarappa holding a convention to “save” the organisation, in defiance of the warnings from the Yeddyurappa camp.

Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa said he was exercising self- restraint against commenting on Eshwarappa or the ‘Rayanna Brigade’.

Speaking to reporters at Kalaburagi, he added that BJP national general secretary and Karnataka in-charge Muralidhar Rao, who had collected the opinions of several party leaders regarding the developments, had brought the matter to Shah’s notice.

In this backdrop, Yeddyurappa has appointed Srinivas Prasad as the party’s state vice president.

Prasad, who had quit the Congress on being dropped from the cabinet by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, had unsuccessfully contested the recently-concluded by-poll to the Nanjanagudu constituency on a BJP ticket.

The appointment comes after a crackdown on the feuding factions by the BJP’s central leadership, which relieved two office-bearers each from the Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa camps of their charges. Of them, two were party vice presidents.

Meanwhile, Union minister and senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu, who was in the city, refused to comment on the developments saying, “Both of them (Yeddyurappa and Ehswarappa) will fight the election together.” The BJP today also announced that its two-day state executive meeting will be held at Mysuru on May 6-7.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.