Bengaluru: The running battle between the BJP state President B.S.Yeddyurappa and party national joint secretary Santhosh spilled into the open on Saturday when the BSY camp barred Santhosh loyalists from attending a state level booth committee meeting that they were told had been cancelled but was convened without them.
The spat, coming hours after the BJP scotched the former chief minister's appointment of his loyalist G. Madhusudhan as the state party spokesperson, has sparked concerns that BSY, who can be unpredictable and cannot be goaded beyond a point, could upset the party's strategy for the state if he continues to be thwarted.
Sources indicated that notwithstanding the severe dressing down from party national president Amit Shah when he visited the state, the internal bickering between the BJP's chief ministerial nominee and his biggest critic, has continued unabated. Saturday's development owes its genesis to the ill-advised move by Mr. Shah to entrust the state party organisation to BSY's bête noire Santhosh. Since then, the party central leadership has severely restricted Yeddyurappa from taking unilateral decisions, instructing him that all decisions pertaining to the state must be endorsed by the party core committee. He has also been instructed that he cannot make any promises to aspirants on party tickets. Mr. Yeddyurappa's appointment of G. Madhusudhan as the state party spokesperson, was raised in the core committee meeting last Saturday and much to the embarrassment of BSY, party elections incharge Prakash Javadekar and Piyush Goyal asked the former CM to annul the appointment, as it was not ratified by the party core committee. Meanwhile Santhosh moved to take back control of the party by appointing his diehard supporters to the party booth committee, accommodating around 20 leaders including former MLC, Banuprakash, Shivayogiswamy, former MLA, Nirmala Kumar Surana, Nandish, Girish, Krishna Reddy, Keshav Prasad, former corporator Shivakumar and others. All come from an organizational background and have closely worked with Mr. Santhosh when he was party state organizing secretary. Incidentally, all these leaders are strong opponents of Mr. Yeddyurappa. They are also strongly opposed to the "dictatorial" working style of Yeddyurappa and had been suspended by him in the past.
In a clear bid to block Santhosh from getting the upper hand in the party's organizational structure, Mr. Yeddyurappa decided to prevent Santhosh's supporters from even attending the Saturday meeting by ensuring they were all told by a caller from the BJP office that the scheduled meet on Saturday had been cancelled. Yeddyurappa then chaired a meeting with his own supporters at the party office on Saturday, which was attended by Union Ministers Sadananda Gowda and Ananth Kumar. Given Mr. Yeddyurappa's apprehension on Santhosh's motives to sideline him as he tightens his grip, the one thing he will not allow is a parallel centre of power to emerge. Sources told this newspaper that Santhosh, who enjoys a good equation with both Mr Shah and PM Modi has flown to Delhi to confabulate on how to handle the current crisis. BJP elections in-charge and union Minister for HRD, Prakash Javadekar, who is on a tour of Bellary will also be giving the party bosses his feedback from Bengaluru, sources added.