With the Karnataka Assembly elections set to happen in a few months, BJP leaders in several districts of the state have started bickering over tickets.
In Vijayapura, Udupi and Ballari districts, several BJP leaders have brought their fight out in the open, leading BJP National President Amit Shah to reprimand the leaders and order them to maintain a united front.
According to a BJP party worker, the party is facing trouble with ticket aspirants who are fighting amongst each other in several districts.
‚ÄúThere is also the problem of leaders who may possibly join other political parties and Amit Shah has ordered everyone to stay united,‚ÄĚ the source added.
On Wednesday, two BJP MLAs ‚Äď BS Anand Singh from Vijayanagara constituency and B Nagendra of the Kudligi constituency, both ticket aspirants, did not attend the Parivartana Yatra in their respective constituencies.
A fresh set of rumours about Nagendra, a close aide of BJP leaders Sriramulu and Gali Janardhana, joining the Congress has also surfaced. Nagendra also did not participate in the preparatory meeting.
At Hosapete too, Anand Singh, who has been aggressively campaigning, did not show up for the yatra.
‚ÄúThere was also another problem. Several BJP workers who supported these leaders were also not present in the yatra. In Hadagali and Hagari Bommanahalli as well, there are fights going on between ticket aspirants. In any election, there will be several ticket aspirants for one constituency but the problem is that even the supporters of these leaders are divided. If people assume that the leaders are not united, then it will not be good for the party,‚ÄĚ the BJP source added.
Infighting surfaces at party Parivartana Yatra
In December 2017, the infighting in the party became apparent at the recent Parivartana Yatra led by BJP state President and former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, who visited every constituency in the district to campaign.
‚ÄúThe party workers were very unhappy with the way Yeddyurappa has been dealing with the situation. He is not taking their opinions into consideration. In Indi, Vijayapura and Basavanabagewadi, the leaders have begun fighting amongst themselves. In Vijayapura city, former MLA Appu Pattanshetty and MLC Basanagouda Patil Yatnal are vying for the ticket and their supporters, who are also BJP workers, have been fighting with each other,‚ÄĚ the source added.
Party workers had set up two different stages at the Parivartana Yatra due to the ongoing fight between former MLA Nemiraj Naik and his rivals.
‚ÄúHadagali area has a majority population of Dalits and Scheduled Tribes. The leaders are fighting over who should get the ticket as some feel they represent the vote bank compared to the leaders belonging to other castes. The problem is that there have been efforts to quell the dissent, but it has been cropping up in several places,‚ÄĚ the source added.
Basanagouda Yatnal, who was expelled from the BJP, is now trying to get back into the party, sources say. A large number of party leaders are against this and the dissent is said to have grown as Yeddyurappa is keen to take Yatnal back into the saffron party‚Äôs fold.
‚ÄúThere are also six other leaders who are fighting amongst each other, which has made it difficult for the senior leaders to handle. In Basavanabagewadi taluk, there is war between former minister SK Bellubbi and Sangaraj Desai, who is close to Yeddyurappa. Desai had also contested against Bellubbi in the previous Assembly polls through a KJP ticket,‚ÄĚ a BJP leader said.
In Indi taluk, the differences became apparent when some party workers took away the microphone from Yeddyurappa when he started praising former MLA Ravikant Patil, who had recently joined the BJP. ‚ÄúSome of them do not want Ravikant Patil to get the ticket,‚ÄĚ the BJP leader added.
Clashes in Udupi over Shetty rejoining BJP
In the same month, clashes broke out at the Yatra in Kundapur in Udupi district in the presence of Yeddyurappa, as BJP workers fought with the supporters of Halady Srinivas Shetty. Critics and supporters of Shetty confronted each other during the rally when Shetty, the MLA for Kundapur, arrived at the event. Shetty had previously been a part of the BJP, but had broken off ties due to differences. Now, he has confirmed that he is rejoining the party.
The move to bring Shetty back into the party was met with resistance from supporters of Kishore Kumar, who had contested from Kundapur for the BJP in 2013. Several supporters raised placards that read ‚ÄėParty is bigger than individual‚Äô and ‚ÄėHalady needs BJP and BJP does not need Halady‚Äô.
Eventually, the police had to resort to a mild lathi-charge to bring the situation under control. Shetty refused to be drawn into discussions about the upcoming elections, but confirmed that he would be returning to the BJP from January.
Amit Shah intervenes
In order to quell the infighting, Amit Shah is said to have told Yeddyurappa that the candidates for the elections will not be announced during the Parivartana Yatra.
‚ÄúDuring several public functions, Yeddyurappa has endorsed certain BJP leaders from the said areas, leading to an impression that they were the potential candidates for the upcoming polls. This has led to infighting for which Amit Shah has reprimanded the leaders and instructed everyone not to announce the names of candidates,‚ÄĚ the source added.
Shah has now instructed the state BJP leaders to conduct surveys on candidate popularity, list three candidates for each constituency and hand it over to him. Shah has instructed the leaders that he will be the only one to select candidates for the upcoming polls.