Bengaluru: The factional feud in Karnataka's BJP intensified on Thursday with senior leader KS Eshwarappa holding a convention to "save" the party in defiance of its state president BS Yeddyurappa's warning against it.
Setting the stage for confrontation, the party's 'disgruntled' leaders met under the leadership of Eshwarappa, who openly attacked Yeddyurappa over his "unilateral" style of functioning, saying the "dictatorial attitude" won't work.
Terming the convention an "anti-party activity," Yeddyurappa, while talking to reporters, blamed National Joint General Secretary (Organisation) B L Santhosh, perceived to hold significant sway over the party affairs in the state, for scripting it.
Resentment has been brewing within the party over Yeddyurappa's "unilateral" style of functioning after the appointment of party office-bearers, "ignoring" the loyal workers and the old guard of the party.
The fissures within the Karnataka unit have cropped up as a matter of concern among the central leadership which is hoping for the revival of the party's fortunes in the assembly polls early next year to see BJP's return to power.
Forming the first-ever government in the South, the BJP had ruled the state from 2008 to 2013 which had seen three chief ministers taking over the the reign one after another amid the factional wars and corruption charges leading to the Congress return to power.
"...our seniors have taught us that a person is not? important. Nation first, party next and the person last. With this motto we have gathered here to move forward," Eshwarappa said addressing the convention.
He said "when Amith Shah declared Yeddyurappa as the? party president and the next chief minister, we were happy, but if you (Yeddyurappa) act as you want, we can't sit quite."
The convention also witnessed some unruly scenes as a person who objected to the comments against Yeddyurappa, was roughed-up and sent out by a group of workers.
Hitting back at Eshwarappa, Yeddyurappa asked him to choose whether he wants to take responsibility and work for "Rayanna Brigade" or as opposition leader.
He reminded Eshwarappa that he was in the fourth position in the last assembly polls, but was still made an MLC and the opposition leader.
"We are bringing everything to the notice of the party central leadership. They are also taking note of it and they will take appropriate decision," Yeddyurappa said.
"...all these activities began in party office some months ago, some of our leaders supported it. The followers of Santosh, who is called the party's national leader, are behind this...he is the motivation behind it," he added.
In a bid to pacify both the leaders, party's national President Amith Shah had brokered a peace deal, following the growing resentment and formation of "Rayanna Brigade."
In an apparent show of strength, Eshwarappa had floated Sangolli Rayanna Brigade, an apolitical forum to unite Dalits and backward classes, and held conventions in various parts of the state.
Reacting to this, Yeddyurappa had issued notices to a few leaders who had participated in the "Brigade" activities, and had also suspended a couple of them.
Stating that the gathering was organised to convey that "dictatorial" attitude won't work, Eshwarappa in his address at the convention questioned why Yeddyurappa did not call meeting of 'disgruntled' party leaders as directed by Shah.
"...you call us anti-party or whatever you want, but our blood won't change... we will not go to any one at any cost, we will not join another party or form another party," he said adding that those who had gone out of the party are now warning of action.
The remarks were aimed at Yeddyurappa who had quit the BJP and formed Karnataka Janata Paksha which fared badly in the 2013 polls. Later, he had returned to the BJP.
"You are the party president, you are the chief ministerial candidate, what else do you want... You can't expect us to adjust to what ever you do unilaterally, Eshwarappa told Yeddyurappa.
Rejecting Eshwarappa's claims that Amit Shah had not opposed today's meeting, Yeddurappa said that on instructions from the national general secretary in-charge Muralidhar Rao, state general secretary N Ravikumar had made a?statement asking party men to refrain from attending the meeting.
"How can a party's national general secretary give such instructions without Amit Shah's consent...as a disciplined party worker, I feel that our party leadership will take appropriate decision," he said....