Political circles here are abuzz with BJP national general secretary (organization) B.L. Santhosh's role in the saffron party's new experiment in Karnataka ahead of the assembly polls.
The BJP's decision to rest senior party leaders Jagadish Shettar, Laxman Savadi and K.S. Eshwarappa has been taken by Santhosh. He also ensured the sidelining of former chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa and the denial of a ticket to his son B.Y. Vijayendra from Varuna constituency in the 2018 assembly elections, according to sources.
Though there was a tussle between Yediyurappa and Santhosh throughout his tenure, surprisingly Yediyurappa has now defended Santhosh and condemned statements against him.
It is claimed that Santhosh is nursing ambitions of becoming the CM of Karnataka as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier become the CM of Gujarat. Modi was also holding the position of national general secretary (organization). Presently Santhosh also has the same post.
The BJP faction against Santhosh says that he wants to take over the post of CM from the backdoor and on the pretext of strengthening the party is preparing the ground for himself. Those in his favour say that Santhosh is grooming a new generation of leaders for the future and he is not interested in power.
Former BJP CM Jagadish Shettar who joined the Congress had lashed out at Santhosh, holding him responsible for his exit from the saffron party. The BJP is losing seats one after the other. The party is not sure whether it wants to come to power, Shettar said.
In the past, Santhosh has been made the in-charge of elections in other states, but the BJP could not win anywhere. In spite of this, he had been given the charge of Karnataka. This is only being done to make the party lose in the state, he claimed.
One individual has become important and he has kept everything under his control. Santhosh will ruthlessly trample on those who are not in his favour. "His protege Mahesh Tenginakayi has got the ticket for my constituency in the BJP. To get him this ticket, I was humiliated and thrown out by Santhosh," Shettar stated.
There is a conspiracy to finish off the BJP in the state. Even Yediyurappa is helpless. There is suffocation in all district offices. State BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel is a close associate of Santhosh. Kateel will act as per his directions, Shettar charged.
Senior BJP leader Prabhakar Kore stated that the developments in the state were not brought to the notice of PM Modi. The middle persons are carrying them out. "If they think they can finish off the Lingayat community leadership, it is impossible," he said. There are rumours that Kore is also seriously contemplating quitting the party.
Reacting to these charges, B.L. Santhosh, who keeps a distance from the media, replied on his social media account with a quote from the Upanishads, "Charaivethi, Charaivethi yahi to mantra hai apna" (Keep Moving, Keep Moving, this is my mantra).
Sources said that Santhosh and Union Minister for Mines, Coal and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi, who hails from the state, are together hatching a plan to gain supremacy in state politics. They have now managed to sideline Yediyurappa, Eshwarappa, Jagadish Shettar and Laxman Savadi.
Former deputy CM R. Ashoka has been given the formidable task of defeating Karnataka Congress president D.K. Shivakumar in his constituency. Another senior Lingayat leader V. Somanna has been entrusted the uphill task of trouncing Opposition leader Siddaramaiah in his Varuna constituency.
If these frontline leaders who are competitors for the CM's post are sidelined or thrown out from the party, there will be no one to raise a voice against Santhosh and Joshi in Karnataka, sources explained.
By and large Karnataka is a peaceful state and the north Karnataka region is known for unity among Hindus and Muslims. Unlike other places, it is common in the villages of north Karnataka to see Hindus and Muslims living as good neighbours. The Hindutva card won't work here like in Uttar Pradesh, as the state does not have a similar atmosphere.