Eight members of Udupi ZP ‘want to avenge insult to Halady Srinivas Shetty’

Elections to the posts of President and Vice-President of Udupi Zilla Panchayat to be held in Udupi on Thursday is poised for an interesting finish with a rebellion brewing in the ranks of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The post of the President is open for a candidate from the general category while that of the Vice President is reserved for Backward Classes ‘B’ woman candidate.

The zilla panchayat has a strength of 25. Of these 25 members, 16 belong to the BJP and nine to the Congress. Eight members of the BJP have identified themselves with the former Kundapur MLA Halady Srinivas Shetty. These eight members are giving a headache to the party as they want one among them to be chosen for the post of President. But Mr. Shetty himself has said that he had nothing to do with it.

One of the leaders of the rebel BJP faction Ganapati T. Sriyan told The Hindu on Wednesday the BJP leadership had insulted Mr. Shetty by denying him a berth in the State Cabinet. “Hence we eight zilla panchayat members have decided to avenge it. It is not anti-party activity. We form 50 per cent of the strength of the BJP in the zilla panchayat. The anti-defection law does not apply to us and we will not lose our membership”.

According to Mr. Sriyan, the eight members, besides himself, are: Babu Shetty, Gouri Devadiga, Prakash Mendon, Mamata R. Shetty, Rashwat Shetty, Jyoti S. Shetty, and Sunita P. Rajaram.

Mr. Sriyan said the rebel group wanted the post of the president while it was willing to concede the post of Vice-President to the Congress. “If the Congress does not support us, we will remain separate. I am not in touch with the Congress, but our leaders are in touch with it,” he said but did not elaborate these leaders were.

He said that besides himself, two more members from the rebel group were in the race for the post of President. “We will decide our candidate tomorrow,” Mr. Sriyan said.

BJP lukewarm

President of district unit of BJP Udaykumar Shetty said that some BJP ZP members wanted the post of the President to someone from Kundapur taluk. The party would solve this issue through discussions.

“We will decide the names for the posts on Thursday. All BJP members should abide by the party’s decision. We will not tolerate any factionalism,” he said.

Mr. Halady Srinivas Shetty said that after his resignation as MLA, and his brother’s death on August 9, he had stepped out of his house only five times. “I have nothing to do with this (rebel activity). I do not know anything about it. Some ZP members may have respect for me. But it is left to them,” he said.

Congress decision

Gopal Bhandary, President of Udupi District Congress Committee, said that the party would take its decision on this issue in its meeting on October 4. “We are not in touch with any BJP rebels nor have they contacted us,” he said.