Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party may be upbeat after its victories in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi municipality, but its state unit in Karnataka, where Assembly polls are due next year, is jolted by infighting.
A rebel group, led by former deputy chief minister K S Eshwarappa, held a meeting on Thursday and publicly criticised the partyâs state president and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappaâs style of functioning, terming it âdictatorialâ.
Calling itself the âSave BJP Movementâ, the group of more than a thousand disgruntled party workersÂ gathered at the Palace Grounds in Bengaluru. âPeople are made office-bearers in the party if they say Yeddyurappa zindabad! No wonder, such people will become ministers if the party wins,â said Eshwarappa in his address.
Most of the participants at the convention were those who had been removed from various posts at district or taluka level after Yeddyurappa was named the state unit president.
[blurb]Rebellion has been brewing in Karnataka BJP since April 2016 when Yeddyurappa was appointed state president. Soon after holding the charge, Yeddyurappa had announced sweeping changes in the party.[/blurb]
Eshwarappa and other disgruntled leaders have often complained that Yeddyurappa has been appointing his âyes menâ on key party posts.
In August last year, Eshwarappa had launched the Sangolli Rayanna Brigade, an âapoliticalâ forum, for those belonging to the scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs) and other backward castes (OBCs).
Though BJPâs national leadership has intervened time and again to sort out differences between Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa, the two leaders donât see eye to eye.
At Thursdayâs meeting, the rebels have set a deadline of May 10 for the partyâs national leadership to sort out the differences. Else, they have threatened to hold a massive public convention on May 20. It was also decided send a delegation to meet Amit Shah.
An angryÂ Yeddyurappa indicated he would likely go to Delhi on Friday to meet Shah himself and register a strong complaint about Eshwarappa's anti-party activities. "Eswharappa and Co are creating confusion. They are working to help the Congress in a way."
The party high command will also figure out who is "the brain behind such rebellion" the party president said.
Interestingly, the convention sported BJP flags, 'lotus' logos at every corner and even photos of ideologues Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee -- with Eshwarappa claaiming that they were the "original BJPâÂ --Â scenes eerily reminiscent of the tussle for J Jayalalithaaâs 'true'Â legacy in neighboring Tamil Nadu.
Yeddyurappa's loyalists, who held a press conference at the BJP officeÂ soon after the convention, spoke out against this as more evidence of 'indiscipline.'
"He must be expelled immediately, we ask our national leadership to do this within a day. We cannot tolerate such activities. We are here to oppose the Congress and the JDS, not oppose our own leaders," said BJP MLA Ashwathnarayana.
They also said no elected MP or MLA was actually with Eshwarappa in this effort, and dubbed theÂ brigade asÂ a forum of all those who are of no use and have lost their deposits in the previous elections.
Undeterred by the reactions from Yeddyurappa's loyalists and the threat of possible disciplinary action, Eshwarappa said,Â âSome of the party workers present here have been suspended for anti-party activities. Should we allow that? Letâs suspend those who suspend us.â
âWe are here to save the party democracy. One person canât say I want everything. BJPâs culture is democracy. Everyone should be consulted,â said Bhanuprakash, a member of legislative council. âWe donât have a problem with Yeddyurappaâs leadership. But the office-bearers he has appointed are the ones creating troubles,â added.
Former minister Sagodu Shivanna, who had been suspended by Yeddyurappa, said âIt is not the Yeddyurappa we knew earlier. I appeal to the national leadership, hand over our Yeddyurappa to us.â