Dramatic scenes unfolded at Karnataka's Mudigere constituency as BS Yediyurappa arrived to lead the BJP's Vijay Sankalpa Yatra.
Rift within the BJP in Karnataka were laid bare to the public today as former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa was forced to cancel the party’s pre-election march in Chikkamagaluru district, after being gheraoed by party workers apparently supporting party national general secretary CT Ravi.
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 Sankalp Yatra.
Sources said party workers and supporters of CT Ravi gheraoed the Lingayat strongman’s 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.
With Mr Yediyurappa holding a position in the parliamentary board, party workers hoped that he would be in a position to lobby for other aspirants and deny tickets after he announced his son’s candidature from Shikaripura constituency.
Sources indicated that the demand for his removal was a challenge of sorts to Mr Yediyurappa to exercise his heft within the party.
There was also speculation that the intention of the protesters was to make trouble and embarrass the Lingayat strongman, who is seen as indispensable by 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 of Chief Minister in 2021. This time, he said he would not contest the election but work behind the scenes and his younger son BY Vijayendra will contest from 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, is struggling under multiple allegations of corruption. Last year, the opposition Congress had launched a mock campaign PayCM to highlight allegations that the BJP was extracting 40 per cent commission from builders, contractors and others.