Infighting in K'taka BJP as saffron party courts Congress Vokkaliga leaders

Congress minister Krishnappa is a strong Vokkaliga face in Mandya and Ramanagara, and the BJP wants to break into the region by splitting the Vokkaliga vote.
Infighting in K'taka BJP as saffron party courts Congress Vokkaliga leaders
Infighting in K'taka BJP as saffron party courts Congress Vokkaliga leaders
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On Sunday morning, BJP State President BS Yeddyurappa said that “he has no objections to BJP leaders defecting to other parties”.

“Whoever wants to leave, let them… whoever wants to join the party, they are welcome. I have no objections. All I can say is there is no rift between the leaders in our party,” he said.

The former Chief Minister’s statement comes after immense speculation that one of his trusted aides, former Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka R Ashoka, is unhappy with Yeddyurappa’s decision to court a Congress minister with hopes that he would join the party.

Speaking to TNM, a BJP insider says, “It is an open secret that the party is in serious talks with current Housing Minister M Krishnappa and his son Priya Krishna. M Krishnappa’s constituency – Vijayanagara in Bengaluru, is what the BJP wants as it is a given that he will win. The same goes with the Govindaraju Nagar MLA Priya Krishna. Besides, both of them want to join because they have differences with DK Shivakumar,” the source added.

According to the BJP source, Krishnappa and his son have not confirmed their joining the BJP, but have hinted that the defection could be a possibility after the 2018-19 budget is announced.

“Anyone who is defecting this late will do it after the budget so that they can have fodder for campaigning,” the source said.

Why are M Krishnappa and Priya Krishna important?

According to BJP insiders, M Krishnappa is a strong Vokkaliga face in the Mandya and Ramanagara regions. 

“In the eight southern districts of Karnataka, popularly known as Old Mysore region, there are districts like Mandya, Hassan, Ramanagara and Chamarajanagar districts where the Vokkaliga population is very high. The BJP wants to break into the JD(S) and Congress stronghold by splitting the Vokkaliga vote,” the source added.

The source says that one of the main reasons the BJP is hopeful that M Krishnappa and his son would defect is because their differences with DK Shivakumar have only grown.

“It is very simple. Krishnappa, his son and DK Shivakumar want to be the top Vokkaliga leader. Besides, Shivakumar had rallied strongly against M Krishnappa getting a ministerial berth in 2013. Since then, Krishnappa has been unhappy in the party, especially after Shivakumar was made the head of the campaign management committee,” he added.

Why has M Krishnappa’s potential defection displeased Yeddyurappa’s ‘trusted aide’ R Ashoka? 

R Ashoka, a prominent Vokkaliga face, has a strong voter base in Bengaluru’s Padmanabhanagar constituency. BJP insiders say that Ashoka has now switched sides and is currently a supporter of Union Minister of State for Skill Development Anantkumar Hegde, because he is displeased with Yeddyurappa’s decision to bring M Krishnappa and Priya Krishna into the BJP’s fold.

“M Krishnappa is way stronger that Ashoka in the Mandya-Ramanagara belt. For a long time, Ashoka has been the BJP’s Vokkaliga face. Last year in October, when CP Yogeshwar, a prominent Vokkaliga Congress leader joined the BJP, Ashoka did not take it well. Now with two other Vokkaliga faces in the fray, he is disappointed, which is why he is not on good terms with Yeddyurappa. This is not all, the BJP is planning to bring in 15 other Congress leaders after the state budget is announced,” the source added.

The source says that R Ashoka has now joined the faction of the BJP that is rooting for Anantkumar Hegde to become the next CM of Karnataka if the BJP wins.

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