Karnataka Lok Sabha polls: Eshwarappa to contest as Independent against Yediyurappa’s son Raghavendra in Shivamogga

The BJP leader spared no opportunity to make it clear that the contest was not against Narendra Modi but ‘to free the party from the clutches of Yediyurappa and his sons’

March 15, 2024 09:56 pm | Updated 09:56 pm IST - Shivamogga

BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa at a meeting of his supporters in Shivamogga on Friday.

BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa at a meeting of his supporters in Shivamogga on Friday. | Photo Credit: Sathish G.T.

BJP senior leader and OBC face K.S. Eshwarappa announced on Friday, at a meeting of his supporters, that he would contest against party veteran B.S. Yediyurappa’s son B.Y. Raghavendra for the Shivamogga Lok Sabha seat. This follows his son K.E. Kantesh not getting party ticket to contest for the Haveri Lok Sabha seat.

“I am contesting to free the party from the clutches of one family — Yediyurappa and his sons — and ensure that the party goes on the right path in tune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision,” Mr. Eshwarappa said, while addressing the meeting of his supporters that had been convened in Shivamogga to elicit their views. He said he had chosen to contest the election “as a voice of hundreds of party workers disappointed over the recent developments in the party.”

Mr. Eshwarappa clarified that his contest was not against Mr. Modi. “I often say my party is my mother. But should I keep quiet when my mother is being strangled?” he asked.

“When I contest as an Independent candidate, the party may serve me a notice or expel me. But if I win the contest, all the senior leaders of the party will convince me and take me back. There is no doubt about that,” he maintained.

“Mr. Modi has often criticised the Congress, citing its dynastic politics. But, in Karnataka, the BJP is going the Congress way. My contest is to ensure that the party goes as per Mr. Modi’s vision,” he said, showering praises on the Prime Minister.

Sri Rama and Modi

Going out of his way to state that he would not go against Mr. Modi, Mr. Eshwarappa said: “If my heart is opened, you would see Sri Rama on one side and Mr. Modi on the other. What would you see if Mr. Yediyurappa’s heart was opened?” he asked. His supporters shouted “Shobhakka”, referring to Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje, who has been given ticket from Bengaluru North. He added, “In Mr. Yediyurappa’s heart, you would see his children on one side and Ms. Shobha on the other. This is not my opinion, but what party workers believe,” he said.

Listing out the reasons for his decision, the former Minister said that when he announced his retirement from electoral politics last year, senior leaders of the party had assured him that both he and his son would get better opportunities. “However, nothing happened. My son and I met Mr. Yediyurappa and sought ticket from Haveri. He not only assured ticket but also promised that he would get Kantesh elected from the constituency. But, now former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has been fielded from the seat,” he said.

Varied views

Earlier, many leaders representing Kuruba, Bhavasara Kshatriya, Veerashaiva, Arya Vysya, Idiga, Brahmin, and other communities spoke. While many urged Mr. Eshwarappa to contest the election as an Independent, a few suggested he consult senior leaders and resolve the issue within the party’s forum.

Nataraj Bhagawat, leader of Brahmin Sabha in Shivamogga, said that contesting against the BJP candidate would be termed as a contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “This is Modi’s election. If you contest, it would be against Modi. Hence, it would be better to resolve the differences within the party’s forum. You have contacts at all levels in the party”, he said. Suresh K. Balegundi, a leader of the Idiga community, suggested Eshwarappa continue his efforts to secure a BJP ticket for his son Kantesh in Haveri, instead of contesting for Shivamogga. “The BJP has proposed to field Basavaraj Bommai in Haveri. We all know that Bommai never wanted to contest. There are chances to get the ticket for Kantesh even now. Let us all urge PM Modi, during his visit to Shivamogga, to demand a ticket for Kantesh”, he said.

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