BJP to hold talks with rebels who remain defiant

The Congress condemned the absence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members during the election to the posts of president and vice-president of Udupi Zilla Panchayat (ZP), resulting in lack of quorum and consequently postponement of the election to October 12, in Udupi on Thursday.

Gopal Poojary, president of Udupi District Congress Committee, told presspersons that though the BJP had a majority in the ZP and had submitted nomination papers for the posts of president and vice-president, it had boycotted the meeting. This showed that the BJP had no respect for the institution of zilla panchayat. “The behaviour of the BJP is condemnable. It would be better if fresh election is held for the zilla panchayat,” he said.

Later at a press conference at the district BJP office, Raghupati Bhat, BJP MLA, said that there were some problems in the BJP, which had resulted in its members not turning up for the meeting. “We too had to do some politics. We could not have allowed the Congress to win the election. We are confident of bringing the rebels back to our fold. If the rebels do not relent, the party would take disciplinary action against them,” Mr. Bhat said.

Udaykumar Shetty, president of the district BJP, said that the dissident members would have to toe party line and vote for the candidates chosen by the party on October 12. “But we will hold talks with the dissidents and try to resolve the issue,” he added.

But the rebel faction of the BJP remained defiant. K. Babu Shetty, one of the leaders of the rebel faction, told The Hindu that the faction had decided to stay neutral right from the beginning. Hence, it had decided to abstain from the zilla panchayat meeting on Thursday. The next move of the rebel faction would be decided in consultation with the former Kundapur MLA Halady Srinivas Shetty. “We will work as per the directions of Mr. Srinivas Shetty,” he said. All the eight members of the rebel faction of the BJP were united and he was confident that they would remain so till October 12. “None from the (official) BJP has approached me for talks. But anything can happen in politics,” he said. On the threat of disciplinary action from the BJP, Mr. Babu Shetty said: “We constitute 50 per cent strength of the party in the zilla panchayat. Hence, no legal action can be taken against any member (of the rebel faction). Who is the real BJP – we or they?”