Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has shied away from early re-entry of former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa into the party fold, apprehending that a green signal would provide “ammunition” to the Congress to attack it.

“It’s a question of the party’s image. We don’t want to give a stick to the Congress to beat us,” a senior BJP leader said, who expects possible coming back of the political heavyweight closer to the elections, when defections from one party to another are seen as “normal”.

A section of the BJP State unit is pushing for the return of Mr. Yeddyurappa, who quit the party last year and forged Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) which, however, won only six seats in the 224-member Assembly in the May polls.

But KJP garnered nearly 10 per cent of the total vote share, damaging the prospects of BJP, which sought a mandate to return to power, with the Congress registering a landslide victory.

BJP State unit on Saturday released a list of its new office-bearers and chiefs of various Morchas, virtually shutting the door on aspirants from KJP, who were expected to be accommodated in case of an early merger.

Mr. Yeddyurappa has also sought to harden his stand. “There is no question of going back to the BJP. I plead with people not to make efforts towards my return to BJP,” he said. KJP has already made it clear it would support the NDA.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, a key figure pushing for his return to the party, told reporters that Mr. Yeddyurappa’s pain (that he had to leave the party which he nurtured and built) was understandable, adding, BJP’s high-command would have to take decision on taking him back.

KJP sources said the party has sought a key position for Mr. Yeddyurappa in decision-making process as a pre-condition for his return, but BJP leaders said their central leadership has not given a green signal, which is expected to come only closer to the Lok Sabha elections.

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