The infighting in the district unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to the fore on Wednesday during the visit of K.S. Eshwarappa, Deputy Chief Minister and State BJP president, to Yellapur.

At a closed-door meeting of party leaders of the district, Ananth Kumar Hegde, MP from Uttara Kannada, asked Minister for Fisheries, and Science and Technology Anand Asnotikar to stay out of the meeting because they were discussing him. This happened in the presence of Mr. Eshwarappa, and Mr. Asnotikar walked out of the meeting hall, party sources said.

This incident gave credence to the rumour that the BJP was hoping to get rid of Mr. Asnotikar in the next Assembly election. On Monday, the district unit of the BJP asked the party leadership not to give ticket to the Minister in the Assembly election.

According to the sources, Mr. Eshwarappa conveyed a meeting of the office-bearers of Karwar Assembly constituency to discuss the plan for the Assembly election. Mr. Asnotikar too joined the meeting. When the discussion began, Mr. Hegde reportedly objected to the presence of Mr. Asnotikar and asked him to go out.

Some supporters of Mr. Asnotikar opposed this. But a shocked Mr. Asnotikar quietly walked out of the meeting hall, they said. Later, the office-bearers explained the about the “anti-party activities” of Mr. Asnotikar and the “damage” he caused to the party in the last four years.

At the meeting, Mr. Hegde reportedly lashed out at Mr. Asnotikar saying that some moles had entered the party for power and spoiled the image of the party in the State. He said those power-hungry people should be thrown out. The leadership should apologise to the honest workers of the party for allowing outsiders to enjoy power when the party was elected in the State, Mr. Hegde said.

A confidant of Mr. Asnotikar said it appeared that the BJP had decided to throw the Minister out of the party. So, the second-rung leaders were openly attacking him. If it continued to happen, Mr. Asnotikar would be forced to leave the BJP by the next election, he said.

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