Wary of party denying them tickets, senior BJP leaders lobby for ‘heirs’ in poll-bound Karnataka

With BJP keen on dropping some incumbent MLAs, senior leaders, including BS Yediyurappa, are seeking tickets for their children, supporters.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 06, 2023 | 12:43 PMUpdated Apr 25, 2023 | 3:31 PM

Karnataka BJP Vijaya Sankalpa Yatra

Worried amidst recent speculation that the BJP high command will not give tickets to some incumbent MLAs, including seniors, in the April-May Karnataka Assembly polls, 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.

Speculation is rife within the party that the central leadership is unwilling to give tickets to seniors — including the likes of KS Eshwarappa, Govind Karjol, V Somanna, Jagadish Shettar and Suresh Kumar — instead preferring new faces, mainly youngsters.

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

Related: What BJP is doing beyond Hindutva in Karnataka Assembly polls

It may be noted that influential Lingayat leader and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa has already declared that he will not be contesting the upcoming Assembly polls. He also claimed that his youngest son and BJP state vice-president BY Vijayendra will be contesting from the Shikaripura Assembly segment.

‘Gujarat model of culling’ but only in part

In the 2022 December Gujarat Assembly polls, the BJP denied tickets to over 40 incumbent MLAs, including former ministers, to counter anti-incumbency. The saffron party registered a historic victory in the elections, winning 156 out of 182 Assembly seats.

As BJP received overwhelming success with its new political engineering in Gujarat, the central leadership is planning to follow a similar strategy in Karnataka. The extent of change, however, is unlikely to be as much as Gujarat.

A BJP leader from Hubballi-Dharwad region told South First: “The party high command is seriously thinking of not fielding some of the senior leaders, mainly sitting MLAs. If these senior leaders are dropped, then central leadership is likely to entrust them with party responsibilities.”

“There is an anti-incumbency against some of the sitting MLAs in the region. The final call on dropping some of the senior leaders and incumbent legislators will be taken after a final survey by the high command. The party is firm on promoting new faces, mainly youngsters, in the upcoming Assembly polls,” detailed another BJP leader.

Refuting such rumours, Minister for Water Resources Govind Karjol told South First: “I have been part of all the poll committee meetings. The party has not discussed a word about dropping the seniors in the upcoming Assembly polls. This is all media-created rumours.”

However, Karjol made it clear that he will abide by the decision of the party high command.

“If party does not want me to contest in the polls, I am more than happy to stay away. I also have no hesitation in taking up party responsibilities, if given by the high command. I have been a disciplined karyakarta for the past many decades,” reiterated the senior Dalit leader.

South First Poll: Congress seen as having edge in Karnataka Assembly poll

Senior leaders lobby for children  

Amidst talk of senior leaders being denied tickets, they are knocking the doors of the party high command seeking tickets for their children.

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

“The senior Dalit leader Govind Karjol is lobbying to get tickets for his children Gopal Karjol and Umesh Karjol from the Nagthan (SC) and Mudhol (SC) Assembly segment, respectively,” the source added.

“Lingayat leader Jagadish Shettar is seeking a ticket either for his wife Shilpa Shettar or his son Pradeep Shettar from Hubballi-Dharwad Central constituency. The senior Vokkaliga leader V Somanna is lobbying to get a ticket for his son Dr Arun Somanna; however, the constituency is yet to be finalised,” party sources claimed.

Admitting that an effort is being made to get a ticket for Gopal Karjol, the eldest son of Govind Karjol, Umesh Karjol told South First: “Gopal Karjol is likely to be the party’s face for the Nagathan Assembly seat. The preparations will kick-start once the party makes it official. I am not an aspirant in any Assembly segment.”

‘No high command decision yet

Responding to these developments, BJP state general secretary and MLC N Ravikumar told South First: “The high command has not yet decided on dropping senior leaders. The central leaders will chair a meeting and take a final call on the matter.”

“None of these senior leaders have pitched tickets either for their sons or followers. The party has said on many platforms that it is against dynasty politics. The party will release the candidates list at the earliest,” Ravikumar responded to talk about senior leaders lobbying for their children.