Karnataka BJP takes up ‘pacify Eshwarappa mission’ ahead of PM Modi’s Shivamogga visit

KS Eshwarappa is said to have turned down an invitation to PM Narendra Modi’s event in Shivamogga where BJP was hoping to set up a meeting between the two to quell dissent.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Mar 17, 2024 | 3:48 PMUpdatedMar 17, 2024 | 3:52 PM

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

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Shivamogga, BJP has formed a team to convince former Deputy Chief Minister KS Eshwarappa to withdraw from his rebellion against the party.

Eshwarappa had announced that he would contest as an independent candidate from the Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency after his son KE Kantesh was denied a ticket for the Haveri-Gadag constituency. KS Eshwarappa is up in arms against BJP Parliamentary board member BS Yediyurappa and his family.

On the directives of the party high command, the BJP team led by former minister and MLA Arga Jnanendra, Karnataka Legislative Council Opposition party’s chief whip and MLC N Ravikumar met Eshwarappa at his residence in Shivamogga on Sunday, 17 March, morning.

However, the BJP leaders’ efforts to convince him went in vain despite making offers to him, including that his son would be accommodated in a better position in the future.

Modi is scheduled to address a huge rally at Shivamogga on Monday afternoon.

After the BJP’s state unit leaders meeting failed to yield positive results, national general secretary and Karnataka’s Lok Sabha in-charge Radha Mohandas Agarwal will be meeting Eshwarappa on Sunday afternoon, which is likely to be a last round of talks, claimed sources in the party.

Eshwarappa announcing his candidature in the hometown of the party’s state chief BY Vijayendra ahead of Modi’s visit there on Monday has turned out to be an embarrassment for the BJP.

Eshwarappa declared rebellion against Yediyurappa and his family contending that the latter had assured the ticket for his son and extended support to all the leaders, including CT Ravi, who failed to get tickets to contest Lok Sabha polls from Karnataka.

Also Read: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah questions PM Modi on ‘electoral bond scam’

BJP makes counteroffer

In a one-hour closed-door meeting with Eshwarappa, the saffron party leaders are said to have made a counteroffer to the former deputy chief minister to withdraw his rebellion against the party for parliament elections.

Jnanendra told South First: “On the directives of the party high command, we met Eshwarappa. We tried to make him realise that he is also part of the BJP family and should not contest against the party in any condition.”

“He complained about the injustice meted out to his son Kantesh over the party ticket from the Haveri-Gadag seat. We made him a counteroffer that his demands would be addressed after the Lok Sabha polls, considering the upcoming legislative council elections.”

“Even the high command is involved in ensuring the former deputy chief minister that his son would be accommodated in a better position in future. Despite holding deliberations for an hour, he did not come to terms,” detailed Jnanendra.

He also said that Agarwal will meet Eshwarappa to convince him and extend an invitation to participate in Modi’s event at Shivamogga on Monday.

Also Read: South Karnataka braces for fierce battle between Congress and BJP-JD(S) combine

BJP leaders extend PM Modi’s event invitation to Eshwarappa

Despite announcing that he would contest against the party in the Shimoga seat, the BJP on Sunday extended Eshwarappa an invitation to Modi’s event.

On condition of anonymity, a BJP leader told South First: “We have offered an invitation to the Prime Minister’s event for Eshwarappa. If he turns up, the party leadership is likely to arrange a small meeting between the PM and Eshwarappa, to resolve the dissent.”

“He did not respond positively. Now, Radha Modhandas Agarwal will visit and try to convince him. The party high command is working out strategies to convince the senior leader.”

“Eshwarappa is not ready to accept the counteroffers, which has become a headache to the party. He is expressing discontentment with a particular family, which the high command is also observing. We are confident that the dissent will be resolved in the interest of the party,” elaborated the BJP leader.

Also Read: PM sounds BJP poll bugle in AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s hometurf

Eshwarappa denies invitation

After the BJP leader met Eshwarappa, he made it clear that he would not be participating in Modi’s event on Monday.

Continuing his tirade against the Yediyurappa family, Eshwarappa told reporters on Sunday: “Several BJP leaders including Arga Jnanendra had met me at my residence. I have made it clear that there is no question of revoking my decision on contesting as an independent candidate from the Shimoga seat.”

“I am not contesting because my son was denied the ticket but to be the voice of those leaders who were meted out injustice and to free the party from the clutches of Yediyurappa’s family,” Eshwarappa said.

He further said: “If the party wanted the state party unit to be headed by a Lingayat then it should have considered Vijayapura City MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal. Why was he not considered?”

“If not, the party should have opted for a Vokkaliga. Why was it not done? Despite the party workers raising ‘Go Back’ slogans against Udupi-Chikmagalur incumbent MP and Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje, CT Ravi was not considered. The party must be freed from the clutches of Yediyurappa,” charged Eshwarappa.

He also slammed the state leadership for not considering him for the state party unit chief under the Backward Classes category.

“The state party unit chief post remained vacant for six months. It was made to lie vacant for Yediyurappa to make his son the party president. The BJP’s Karnataka unit is turning out similar to Congress’ Gandhi family,” dismayed Eshwarappa.

Meanwhile, the seers and pontiffs of several mutts in the Shimoga constituency are expressing support for the former deputy chief minister.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)