BJP leader and former Karnataka deputy chief minister KS Eshwarappa retires from electoral politics

In a brief letter, the veteran legislator, often at the centre of controversies, said his decision was of his own will.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 11, 2023 | 5:40 PM Updated Apr 11, 2023 | 5:40 PM

KS Eshwarappa during BJP's Vijaya Sankalpa Yatra in Mysuru. (Twitter)

Senior Karnataka BJP leader KS Eshwarappa on Tuesday, 11 April, wrote to the saffron party president JP Nadda opting out of contesting the 10 May Assembly polls and said he was retiring from electoral politics.

In his brief letter written in Kannada, the veteran legislator and former deputy chief minister, who has often been at the centre of controversies due to his statements and allegations levelled against him, said his decision was out of his own will.

Eshwarappa would turn 75 in June, the unofficial age bar in the BJP for leaders to contest polls and hold official positions. Though there have been occasional exceptions as well.

The BJP has not yet announced its first list of candidates for the election to the 224-member Assembly.

Also read: Vokkaliga votes: A key for obtaining governance in Karnataka

Pitching for son?

This move could be a result of the recent speculation that the BJP high command will not give tickets to some incumbent MLAs, including seniors, in the Karnataka Assembly polls, and leaders are pitching for tickets either for their children or supporters.

In a bid to bring back the ruling BJP government to the helm in Karnataka and tackle the anti-incumbency wave, the BJP central leadership is likely to follow the Gujarat model, at least in part, while finalising the party candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls

Sources in the party had earlier told South First that legislators including Eshwarappa, Mudhol (SC) MLA Govind Karjol, Govindarajanagara MLA Somanna and Hubballi-Dharwad Central MLA Jagadish Shettar have intensified lobbying for their children to get party tickets from their respective Assembly segments.

“The influential Kuruba community leader Eshwarappa is demanding a ticket for his son KE Natesh from Shivamogga Assembly segment,” a BJP source said.

Also read: Amid dissent, BJP central leadership meets to finalise candidates

Ayanur Manjunath’s challenge

This decision might also have emerged because of Shivamogga BJP MLC Ayanur Manjunath’s public challenge on Eshwarappa.

Manjunath, a close aide of BJP Parliamentary Board member and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa, declared that he would resign his MLC post and contest against Eshwarappa from the Shivamogga City seat in the 10 May Assembly elections.

He, however, did not disclose if he would be joining any other political party.

Manjunath came down heavily on Shivamogga MLA Eshwarappa while announcing his resignation as MLC.

He said, “Everyone knows how Eshwarappa manages to win polls. He always provokes people with his hate speeches to garner votes instead of going for the elections on issues of development.”

Announcing his candidature from Shivamogga, Manjunath said, “I have accepted the challenge of Eshwarappa. I will be contesting against him from Shivamogga in this election. I will not allow Eshwarappa to forward his agenda in the elections. I will seek votes on development instead of communal lines.”

He added, “The people have not forgotten how Eshwarappa treated Yediyurappa. He also disrespected him and never followed the protocols.”

The political observers from Shivamogga suggested that Manjunath, who hails from the dominant Lingayat community, could split BJP votes to an extent, but winning against Eshwarappa would not be a simple task.

(With PTI inputs)