By Advait Moharir
Two prominent leaders BJP leaders in Karnataka – BS Yeddyurappa and S Eswarappa – have revived their long standing feud.
The tussle has a long history. Both leaders come from different backgrounds. Yeddyurappa is the State President of the BJP in Karnataka and has served as CM once, where his tenure was characterized by mass corruption charges, owing to which he had to resign in 2011. Coming from a Lingayat background, he is known to be a strong leader and has a major role to play in capturing the vote bank. Hence, he was taken back into the party by central leadership, despite having resigned and fought against it in the 2013 Assembly elections.
S Eswarappa is a prominent backward classes leader within the BJP. Having served as a Minister in the BJP-JD(S) government, he resigned in 2010 to serve as the Party President, to tackle the Opposition Congress. Hailing from Shimoga, which is also Yeddyurappa’s hometown, he is currently a Member of the Karnataka Legislative Council, having being nominated there after he suffered a crushing loss in the Assembly election in 2013.
The conflict between the two leaders started last year when Eswarappa started complaining about Yeddyurappa’s style of functioning, calling it dictatorial, and not allowing dissidence. He formed a separate organization consisting of Dalits and OBC’s called the Rayanna Sangha reportedly to highlight the atrocities committed against them by the Congress government. However, Yeddyurappa perceived this as a challenge to his position in the party, and refused to support it, causing a rift between the two. Party President Amit Shah had to intervene to broker peace between the two.
The Present Crisis
The wound has split wide open again. With Amit Shah announcing Yeddyurappa as the CM candidate for the upcoming 2018 elections, Eswarappa has started dissenting. He held a ‘Save BJP’ meeting in the State, consisting of rebel MLAs who are against Yeddyurappa’s style of functioning. The latter has also faced several criticism for the party’s poor performance in the by-polls held in Nanjangud and Gundlupet constituencies.
While Amit Shah has reportedly backed Yeddyurappa, some old time BJP MLAs have supported Eswarappa. The RSS has also played a key role. With both men having come from a Sangh background, it has significant say in the matter. While it helped to settle disputes last time around, this time national joint General Secretary BL Santhosh has backed Eswarappa and has even been accused of fermenting the struggle.
The feud has several implications.The BJP is on a roll electorally, winning multiples states back to back. Karnataka has been the only south Indian state where the BJP has ever formed an independent government. It thus has high stakes in the 2018 elections. The feud has a potential to lead to a split in the highly polarized party ranks. Independent party sources have claimed that it will be extremely difficult to win the elections if it goes on. Thus, the feud might ruin the BJP’s best chance at forming a government in Karnataka.
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