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Ahead of bypolls, Yediyurappa faces tough task of tackling dissent

In at least five constituencies, aspiring candidates — most of whom lost the previous Assembly elections — have rebelled or expressed disappointment. The BJP has fielded 13 disqualified legislators in the 15 Assembly segments. It has to win at lea...

, ET Bureau|
Nov 19, 2019, 04.55 PM IST
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State BJP leaders are confident that their strategy will work.
Bengaluru: As the BJP prepares for the December 5 bypolls to 15 constituencies crucial for the survival of the government, Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa faces the challenge of quelling dissent in the party.

In at least five constituencies, aspiring candidates — most of whom lost the previous Assembly elections — have rebelled or expressed disappointment.

On Saturday, Yediyurappa met dissidents from Bengaluru’s Mahalakshmi Layout and Yeshwantpur constituencies, where the BJP has fielded disqualified MLAs K Gopalaiah and ST Somashekar, respectively, a move that hasn’t gone down well with the aspirants. Although the aspirants — actor-turned-politician Jaggesh from Yeshwantpur and NL Narendra Babu from Mahalakshmi Layout — said after the meeting they would abide by the party’s decisions, it is unclear if they will campaign for the candidates. Local BJP leaders said both the unhappy aspirants have not yet signalled that their followers should work for the candidates.

“These ticket aspirants, who have contested from the BJP in the past, see the recent political developments as a threat to their survival. Therefore, they may stay neutral without working for the candidates,” a local party leader said.

The BJP has fielded 13 disqualified legislators in the 15 Assembly segments. It has to win at least eight seats for the government to survive. State BJP leaders are confident that their strategy will work.

“These dissidents have earlier contested from the party and lost. Had they all been so powerful, they wouldn’t have been denied tickets this time,” said a state leader who did not wish to be identified.

However, the situation outside Bengaluru — in Hoskote, Vijayanagar and Ranebennur — is tricky as the dissidents have shown signs of rebellion. While Sharath Bache Gowda has filed his nomination as an independent against BJP candidate MTB Nagaraju in Hoskote, Kaviraj Urs in Vijayanagar and Basavraj Kelagar in Ranebennur could follow suit on Monday, the last day for nominations.

In Ranebennur, party workers even staged a protest after the BJP announced the candidature of Arun Kumar Guthur.

Senior BJP leaders have warned of action against Gowda.

“We are hopeful that he (Sharath) will withdraw his nomination. If he doesn’t, the party will initiate disciplinary action,” said R Ashoka, a minister in Yediyurappa’s cabinet.

Party leaders are confident that the dissent is temporary.

“Most of the dissent has been resolved. Our leaders have successfully convinced dissidents and now they are all working unitedly,” state BJP spokesperson S Prakash told ET.

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