The State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going through a challenging phase with a section of its central leaders reportedly opposing a merger with the BSR Congress.

The preparation of the list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls has been put on hold until party national president Rajnath Singh pronounces his decision on the issue.

It is said that the rank and file of the State unit of the party is in favour of the merger given the fact that the BJP will stand to have a distinct advantage in at least five of the 28 Lok Sabha seats.

All these seats are with the party in the present Lok Sabha and hitherto were under the control of the Reddy brothers.

Sriramulu’s announcement

As such, B. Sriramulu, president of the BSR Congress, a close associate of mining baron and the former Minister B. Janardhan Reddy, has announced that his party will field candidates in Bellary, Raichur, Koppal, Gadag, and Chitradurga constituencies.

Good performance

It should be noted that the BJP had performed creditably in these districts in the 2008 Assembly elections and 2009 general elections and a three-way split ahead of the 2013 Assembly elections cost the party dearly. While the B.S. Yeddyurappa camp has returned to the BJP fold, much to the pleasure of the latter, differences still persist over the merger of the BSR Congress as a central BJP leader is reportedly opposed to the idea.

A former Chief Minister from the BJP told The Hindu that of the 19 seats which the BJP won in the last Lok Sabha elections, 13 MPs have found favour for a renomination while the case of others is yet to be decided. J. Shantha (Bellary) and S. Fakirappa (Raichur), who are in the BSR Congress camp, are among them.

Consequent to these developments, the State leaders of the BJP are planning for another round of discussion on February 14 and will follow it up with a visit to New Delhi before the candidates for all the seats are finalised.

The State BJP leaders have already conveyed to the party national president that the merger with the BSR Congress is a necessity at the present juncture.

Even as this matter is yet to be settled, there are scores of aspirants for party ticket for the Lok Sabha elections. Interestingly, even those who lost the Assembly elections too are seeking ticket knowing well that it will be a far bigger contest.

Also, there are several groups within the BJP campaigning for ticket for a leader of their choice.

Much to the chagrin of the senior leaders, tickets are being sought on caste basis although at the outset the claims are based on what is termed as the winnability of the candidate.

While dissidence over candidate selection in every election has become a norm in most parties, the BJP has to evolve a clear-cut methodology in dealing with such issues as it is only recently that it paid a heavy price for differences among the leaders.

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