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Karnataka BJP Turmoil: Eshwarappa’s Bid to Upset BSY’s Rule

Eshwarappa boldly declares his formidable cross-party backing, surpassing partisan boundaries, reaffirming his steadfast resolve to reunite with the BJP ranks following the elections

Kota Srinivas Eshwarappa, commonly known as KS Eshwarappa, stands as a distinguished figure in Indian politics, leaving an indelible mark on the political landscape of BJP in Karnataka. During his tenure as the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, Eshwarappa demonstrated remarkable administrative prowess and strategic foresight, instrumental in shaping the state’s policies and development trajectory. His unwavering dedication to the well-being of the populace, particularly those in rural areas, commands bipartisan admiration.

Nevertheless, amidst the fervor of the current Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka, discord simmers within the state’s BJP ranks. The former Deputy Chief Minister, KS Eshwarappa, has mounted a challenge against party stalwart BS Yediyurappa, resulting in his expulsion from the BJP ranks. Undeterred by this action, Eshwarappa has intensified his efforts, aiming to disrupt Yediyurappa’s dominance in the Shivamogga constituency.

With an illustrious nearly five-decade affiliation with the BJP, the 75-year-old Eshwarappa justifies his dissent as a duty of a disciplined party loyalist. He asserts that his actions safeguard the party’s integrity in Karnataka. Notably, they align with the ideological principles espoused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Formerly serving as both the party’s state unit president and deputy chief minister, Eshwarappa now embarks on the electoral journey from Shivamogga. He attributes his decision to the alleged injustices within the party, particularly regarding the denial of a ticket to his son, KE Kantesh, for the Haveri constituency.

Eshwarappa, now a renegade within the BJP, underscores his ideological commitment by challenging the party’s official candidate, BY Raghavendra, son of veteran leader BS Yediyurappa, in the Lok Sabha polls.

In a compelling dialogue with senior journalist Ravindra Ojha, representing The Interview World, Eshwarappa asserts his broad-based support, transcending party lines. He maintains his intention to reconcile with the BJP fold post-election, underscoring his alignment with the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.

Q: What led to your transition from being hailed as a “disciplined soldier” of the BJP, adhering to the party’s directives to abstain from contesting Assembly polls to becoming a rebel candidate?

A: In the intricate realm of political stewardship, the mantle of discipline is the domain of steadfast soldiers, not opportunistic figures. From my formative years within the RSS, I’ve borne witness to the resolute endeavors of luminaries like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, who etched the party’s narrative through unwavering commitment. However, the contemporary actions of the father-son duo, Yediyurappa and Vijayendra, seem poised to squander the hard-earned legacy of these revered leaders.

Guided by an unwavering allegiance to the party’s directives, I’ve consistently heeded its call. Yet, in the face of injustice, silence is not an option. My decision to contest is a testament to my fidelity as a disciplined soldier, resolved to preserve the party’s ethos and honor. Upholding the principles instilled by past leaders, I stand firm in my resolve to ensure that the party’s integrity remains unblemished, even amidst turbulent times.

Q: How do you feel about your son not receiving the party ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Haveri?

A: The refusal of the party ticket to my son, Kantesh, serves as a catalyst propelling my involvement in the electoral contest. This development, despite an earlier promise by BS Yediyurappa, underscores a breach of trust. However, the underlying motivation transcends personal grievances. It reflects a broader ideological departure. In the past, our party championed the ethos of collective leadership, fostering inclusivity and diverse perspectives. Regrettably, this ethos has waned, supplanted by a hierarchical structure where decisions are dictated by a paternalistic duo.

Q: How did interactions with central BJP leaders influence your decision to contest?

A: The Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, initiated a telephonic dialogue with me, extending a cordial invitation to convene in Delhi. Despite my reiterated insistence that he refrain from dissuading me from contesting, upon my arrival in Delhi, he regrettably declined to grant me an appointment. This decision, I suspect, may have been influenced by my steadfast resolve to participate in the electoral contest from Shivamogga constituency, thereby asserting my commitment to democratic principles and representation.

Q: How did you anticipate the possibility of facing disciplinary action?

A: Indeed, adherence to this process reflects the BJP’s standard operating procedure. It’s noteworthy that the BJP took disciplinary action against former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar for his defection to the Congress during the Assembly polls. However, State party leaders displayed a willingness to reconcile by personally visiting Shettar and facilitating his return. Given this precedent, it raises the legitimate question: Am I being subjected to a different standard of judgment compared to him?

Q: How do you plan to navigate your expulsion from the BJP over the next six years?

A: Without a doubt, I will secure an overwhelming victory in the upcoming polls. The unwavering support from Congress workers underscores a shared sentiment: the nomination of a lackluster candidate in Shivamogga, purportedly at the behest of Yediyurappa, has left them disillusioned. Furthermore, JD(S) loyalists rally behind me, convinced that the sidelining of prominent Vokkaliga leaders—such as C.T. Ravi, D.V. Sadananda Gowda, and Pratap Simha—stems from Yediyurappa’s influence.

In a strategic move, BJP leaders have expressed their backing, opting to extend their support without formal affiliation. Their rationale is clear: aligning with me ensures a pathway to participation in future Urban Local Bodies’ contests, avoiding potential exclusion from party tickets.

Moreover, the grassroots swell in support demonstrates my steadfast adherence to core ideological principles. The resonance of my message with the broader populace is palpable and reinforces the momentum of our campaign.

Q: Have you scheduled meetings with BJP central leaders following the conclusion of the polls?

A: Upon winning the polls, I shall promptly proceed to Delhi to reunite with the BJP, a political entity I regard akin to my mother. Furthermore, it is my solemn obligation to stand by PM Narendra Modi, whose leadership resonates deeply with me. He holds a special place in my heart. Moreover, I desire to securing victory in the elections by leveraging his esteemed name.

A: How do you respond to the objections raised by the BJP regarding your use of Modi’s photo in your campaign?

A: Prime Minister Modi holds a special place in my heart. His presence within me is eternal. How could anyone contemplate removing such an enduring connection?

BJP Campaign Trail in Karnataka
BJP Campaign Trail in Karnataka
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