BJP High Command ignores Yediyurappa, springs surprise

By M. A. Siraj

In what is seen as a snub to the State leadership, the BJP High command chose two barely known party activists for nomination for the Rajya Sabha seats from the State. On Monday (June 8), the BJP High Command asked Eranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasthi to file nomination for the two of the four seats falling vacant from the State. The signal emanating from the High Command’s action are more significant in the present political context as all three choices recommended by Chief Minister Yediyurappa were rejected.

The State BJP had recommended three names–Ramesh Katti, Prakash Shetty and Prabhakar Kore–for the two seats. Ramesh’s nomination was being sought to buy peace with his brother and known dissident Umesh Katti who had hosted a dinner for 12 prominent dissidents a week ago. Kore, an entrepreneur, industrialist and Chairman of the Karnataka Lingayath Education (KLE) Society was being nominated for the third time. The High Command has completely ignored the choices and sprang a surprise by picking up low-profile district leaders who were unknown on the State level.

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Kadadi hails from Belgaum district and belongs to Panchamsali Lingayath community while Gasti is from Raichur and belongs to Savita (barber) community. Though the choice of lower rung leaders took the cadre and top leaders of the  party by surprise, Yediyurappa put up a brave face claiming that he was consulted by the High Command prior to declaring the two candidates.

The choices are bound to weaken Yediyurappa’s hold on legislators as implications are unmistakably clear in that the CM is not the one who can call all the shots, all the time. At 78, Yediyurappa is steadily losing favour with the High Command which is keen to promote younger leaders, though still unclear about who may be able the steer the party effectively. Yet his high stature among the dominant Lingayath community has so far deterred it from being seen keen on replacing him, lest the community turn away from the BJP.

The ones recommended by the State BJP were high profile candidates. The choice of district level activists has however raised questions if Kadadi and Gasti would have necessary skills to discuss issues in the Upper House of the Parliament without prior internship at the State level.  

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However, even as the efficacy of representation would be debated, the stage is now clear for all the four nominees who have filed their papers for the Rajya Sabha, to be declared elected for the four vacant seats from the State unopposed. Mr. Mallikarjuna Kharge is nominee for the Congress while Janata Dal Secular has put up 88-year old party supremo and former Prime Minister H. D. Devegowda for the lone seat it is capable of winning with additional votes being lent by the Congress. The results are to be declared on June 19.

The four seats from the State fell vacant due to retirement of Rajeev Gowda (professor at IIM-Bengaluru) and Mr. B. K. Hariprasad (both Congress), Prabhakar Kore (BJP) and D. Kupendra Redday (JDS). Their retirement is due on June 25.

M.A. Siraj is a senior journalist based in Bengaluru

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