Rifts within the BJP in Karnataka were laid bare to the public today as former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa was forced to cancel a BJP election campaign in Chikkamagaluru district, after being gheraoed by party workers apparently supporting party national general secretary CT Ravi.
Mr Ravi had dismissed Mr Yediyurappa’s declaration that his son BY Vijayendra would contest from the family stronghold Shikaripura in Shimoga district in the upcoming elections, which triggered a friction that resulted in today’s showdown.
Dramatic scenes unfolded at Mudigere constituency this afternoon as Mr Yediyurappa arrived to lead the BJP’s Vijay Sankalpa Yatra. Sources said party workers and supporters of CT Ravi gheraoed his car, demanding that an assembly ticket not be given to MLA MP Kumaraswamy, who is eyeing another term at the Mudigere constituency.
Mr Kumaraswamy, known for his unfiltered comments, is seen as a liability by a section of the party. Sources indicated that the demand for his removal was a challenge of sorts to Mr Yediyurappa to exercise his heft within the party.
Following the chaos, Mr Yediyurappa, visibly upset, was forced to cancel the roadshow.
Visuals from the spot showed him leaving the location without participating in the yatra and CT Ravi, who was present at the spot, walk with his supporters in the other direction.
Ahead of the elections due in May, infighting has peaked in the state BJP. In Kortagere, ticket aspirants were seen fighting ahead of the visit of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai today.
Cellphone videos from the spot showed aspirants for the Kortagere assembly seat — Lakshmikant and Anil Kumar — engage in a public spat. The argument was over putting up flex and banners in the area.
The BJP came to power in Karnataka in 2019 after the coalition government of HD Kumarswamy and the Congress crashed a year after it was elected. The party is hoping for a second straight term, but is hamstrung by infighting.
Mr Yediyurappa, the BJP’s tallest leader in the south, had to step down from the top post in 2011. This time, he said he would not contest the election but work behind the scenes.
His younger son BY Vijayendra may contest from his seat Shikaripura. The BJP has been unwilling to give Mr Vijayendra ticket or party post to ward off allegations of dynastic politics.
The government of Basavaraj Bommai, meanwhile, has been struggling under multiple allegations of corruption. Last year, the opposition Congress had launched a mock campaign PayCM to highlight allegations that the ruling BJP was extracting 40 per cent commission from builders, contractors and others.