The rift in the Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party is out in the open and quite embarrassing with supporters of B S Yeddyurappa and K S Eshwarappa fighting it out in public. It is now learnt that even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has failed in its very first attempt at patching up things in the BJP. Both Yeddyurappa and K S Eshwarappa gave the RSS meet on Tuesday a miss. Less than 24 hours later, members of the Sangolli Rayanna brigade held a meet at Tumkur on Wednesday.
Twenty-four leaders of the BJP, who had earlier written to Yeddyurappa expressing disappointment over his unilateral decisions, went into a huddle on Wednesday. The disgruntled leaders met at BJP leader Sogadu Shivanna's house in Tumkur away from media glare. While the BJP vehemently denied any letters, their own MLC Bhanuprakash made it clear that a letter expressing disappointment over Yeddyurappa's functioning was indeed written and submitted.
Why the Rayanna brigade is important
For the BJP that already suffers from an anti-Dalit image, the brigade is the best shot at support from communities that have not been conventional vote banks of the BJP. K S Eshwarappa's brigade movement has become a hit with people in many districts and is inching towards a massive support base of over a lakh people. The same in all likelihood will translate into votes in the upcoming Karnataka assembly polls in 2018.
While Yeddyurappa can take solace in the fact that he is, without a doubt, the senior leadership's choice for the CM candidate, it is the possibility of a dual power centre in the state unit with the rise of the brigade that is bothering the former CM. The threat over his post isn't great but the threat to the command he holds over the state unit is.
While the Congress in Karnataka is looking to exploit this fissure in the BJP, the high command is extra cautious not to rub either of the leaders on the wrong side. Yeddyurappa, with his mass appeal is as important as Eshwarappa with the support his brigade is gathering for the upcoming polls. With Yeddyurappa's return, dissent has returned to the Karnataka BJP forcing the Delhi leadership to walk the tightrope.
Dissent in the BJP is nothing new. During his tenure as the chief minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa faced massive criticism within the party with Janardhana Reddy even going directly to Delhi to ensure Yeddyurappa was removed from the CM's post. This time around, however, things are different. The otherwise largely loyal leaders with RSS backgrounds are the ones who have raised their concerns over Yeddyurappa's functioning.
The very reason why the RSS stepped in to sort the differences between the leader but the attempt was unsuccessful. With RSS out of the picture, there seems to be no entity, apart from the high command of the BJP, that can forge a truce. The high command has refused to step in and has chosen to wait and watch how the brigade politics in Karnataka pans out.