Bengaluru: Originally from Mandya, the sugar bowl of Karnataka, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has evinced keen interest in strengthening the BJP in what is considered a Janata Dal (Secular ) stronghold, in the coming byelections.
The bypoll to KR Pete Assembly seat looks imminent with sitting JD(S) MLA Narayana Gowda having been disqualified. The 17 disqualified legislators have moved the Supreme Court questioning the orders of the Speaker and their writ petition is likely to come up for hearing in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, the CM has reportedly taken a keen interest to ensure the victory of Mr Narayana Gowda or any other candidate put up on his behalf since his native village-Bookanakere is part of this taluk. Through Mr Gowda, the BJP is trying to contact other disgruntled JD(S) lawmakers to bring them to the saffron party as the influence of H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Deve Gowda has declined after they formed the coalition government with the help of Congress to prevent the BJP from forming the government.
The BJP leaders are trying to explain to them that they don't have a future if they remain in the JD(S) since it would become irrelevant in the coming months. The help of Mandya MP Sumalatha Ambarish is being sought to woo former Congress legislators and the sitting JD(S) MLAs and it has to be seen if she would be able to convince them. Local BJP leaders told Deccan Chronicle that making Revenue Minister R Ashok in charge of Mandya district is of no use because of his proximity and dependence on the Deve Gowda family if he has to win from Padmanabhanagar assembly constituency. Mr Ashok may be a Vokkaliga leader but his influence is restricted to Bengaluru.
They feel a better choice would be Dr C.N. Ashwathnarayana, DyCM and higher education minister, who successfully managed to lure 17 Congress and JD(S) lawmakers, and played an important role in installing the BJP government headed by Mr Yediyurappa. As Dr Ashwathnarayana is slowly emerging as a strong Vokkaliga leader, it would be possible to bring into the BJP fold defeated Congress legislators like N Cheluvarayaswamy, Ramesh Bandisiddegowda, Mr P.M. Narendra Swamy and Mr Magadi Balakrishna, they add.
It, however, remains to be seen if Mr Yediyurappa will appoint Dr Ashwathnarayana as in-charge minister of Mandya as Mr Ashok has portrayed himself as the unquestionable Vokkaliga leader in the BJP. Sources said Yediyurappa has been advised in this regard and has promised to take a decision in consultation with leaders like party president Amit Shah and working president J P Nadda. Leaders close to Mr Shah have told him about the benefits of appointing Dr Ashwathnarayana in place of Mr Ashok, sources added.