The withdrawal of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in Ramanagara 48 hours before the bye-election on Saturday has upset the party’s central leadership which has launched an inquest into the episode.
“It has turned into an enquiry of sorts as the leadership has started eliciting information from multiple sources,” a senior BJP leader told The Hindu.
The party leaders are particularly upset with BJP State President BS Yeddyurappa for delegating the selection of candidate in Ramanagara to local leader CP Yogeshwar.
L Chandrashekar, who was set to contest the bye-elections against JD(S)' Anita Kumaraswamy, left the BJP and returned to the Congress less than a month after he had joined the party on October 8. Chandrashekar complained that BJP leaders did not campaign with him in Ramanagara as earlier promised.
The decision to rope in a Congress candidate instead of encouraging their own cadre has also left a bad taste among the party's leadership, particularly since the party lacks strong Vokkaliga leaders. The party has struggled in areas of Old Mysore region dominated by Vokkaligas.
Chandrashekar was facing Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. CM Kumaraswamy had to repeatedly defend his choice to field his wife after he was criticised for following dynasty politics by the BJP and sections of the media. “There has been discord regarding Anita’s candidature which ensured that Chandrashekar had a chance to win the elections. However, support from BJP leadership for him was hard to come by,” a JD(S) leader from Ramanagara H Leelavathi told TNIE.
However, on Thursday, Chandrashekar not only announced that he is leaving the BJP, he also held a press conference in the presence of Congress leader DK Suresh. Sources in the Congress party admitted that DK Shivakumar and DK Suresh were central to convincing Chandrashekar to return to the party and embarass the BJP in the process.
The episode comes as a blow to the BJP just two days before the bye-elections to five Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies in the state.