KS Eshwarappa Firm on Contesting as Independent in LS Polls, Says ‘Anger Against BSY, Not Modi’ – News18


Former Karnataka deputy chief minister KS Eshwarappa refused to share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Shimoga on Monday. While PM Modi addressed a public event in his very own backyard in the run up to Lok Sabha Elections 2024, skipping the event in protest was a huge step for him, being a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party and an admirer of PM Modi.

However, he said that his anger is not against the Prime Minister, but against the “dynastic politics for BS Yediyurappa.” He said that his fight was against BSY and his dynastic politics in Karnataka.

On not sharing the dais with PM Modi in Shimoga, the senior BJP leader clarified that his anger is not directed towards Narendra Modi. “But then during the rally, Modi ji will be appealing to people to vote for BY Raghavendra, the son of BSY. My fight is against that very family. So why should I be on stage there,” he questioned.

“I am not worried that a ticket was denied. My point is that when PM Modi speaks of the BJP advocating a principle against dynastic politics, the exact opposite is seen in Karnataka. We see how the Congress is under the control of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. In Karnataka, the BJP is under the control of Yediyurappa and his sons,” Eshwarappa said in an exclusive interview with News18.

Also Read | Senior BJP Leader Eshwarappa Skips PM’s Rally, in Embarrassment to Party Ahead of LS Polls

On March 18, the day PM Modi addressed a massive BJP rally in the high profile seat Shimoga, which is also known as the fiefdom of former chief minister BS Yediyurappa, Eshwarappa was seen temple and mutt hopping seeking blessings of spiritual gurus and rallying their support for his independent candidature in the upcoming election.

The senior BJP leader is extremely miffed and said that he has ‘firmed his mind to contest as an independent candidate’ from the seat that he expected the BJP would give him or his son a Lok Sabha ticket, having been denied the ticket in the 2023 Assembly Polls.

“Hindutva must remain and BJP must come out of the clutches of dynastic politics,” he said adding that he will always support PM Modi but he has decided to blow the bugle of change and root out the “problems that have been created by BSY and his family.”

“We have seen that those who support Hindutva, be it Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, Prathap Simha or Nalin Kateel, Sadananda Gowda, or me, all of us who propagate Hindutva and speak proudly about our cultural roots, they (BSY and team) are creating problems for us. All those who work for the party are pained by how the BSY family are treating all. The Karnataka BJP must see a change. That is why I am contesting this election,” said Eshwarappa.

Last year, Eshwarappa had announced his retirement from electoral politics. At the time, Eshwarappa, who was seeking a ticket for himself or his son Kanthesh, was asked to step aside and make way for fresh faces, on the advice of the party’s central leadership. The leader announced his retirement, and soon after received a call from PM Modi congratulating him for it.

“Modi described me as a disciplined soldier of the BJP and a role model for others,” Eswarappa said then as a telephone call by the Prime Minister to personally appreciate his decision to accept the party’s choice came as a surprise to him.

The Battle for Shimoga

As part of BJP’s massive south push, PM Modi addressed two public rallies – one in Kalaburgi, the stronghold of AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge and another in Shimoga, the home district of BJP stalwart BS Yediyurappa.

BY Raghavendra, Yediyurappa’s elder son is BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate in Shimoga.

Shimoga, a high profile seat in Central Karnataka, is considered a ‘comfortable seat’ for the BJP. However, with Eshwarappa’s entry as an Independent, one can expect a high voltage election campaign with two senior BJP leaders at loggerheads.

The BJP is hopeful of repeating its 2019 performance where the party won 25 out of the 28 seats in Karnataka. However, BJP insiders say they are worried about the signal that would go out to the cadre with this open battle between team Eshwarappa and team Yediyurappa.

When asked how confident he is of winning as an Independent, the former deputy CM said that he has the support of all the mutt heads in the region who have also coaxed him to go ahead with his decision. “I am sure of my win, 100 percent I will win. I am getting calls from across Shimoga where people tell me that they want Narendra Modi at the Centre and Hinduvadi Eshwarappa in Shimoga. I visited 18 mutts and temples in Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency today and every single mutt leader expressed their support for me and said they want me to win,” Eshwarappa said.

Eshwarappa vs Yediyurappa

Considered an influential BJP leader from the Kuruba community (OBC), Eshwarappa has served multiple times as minister in all the Yediyurappa led BJP governments in the southern state. On April 14, 2022, he was forced to resign from his position as Rural Development and Panchayati Raj minister after a major controversy broke out over his alleged role in the suicide of a public works contractor, Santhosh Patil. Patil had, in his suicide note, alleged that the minister was responsible for his death. A year after, he announced his retirement from electoral politics.

Eshwarappa felt the need to come back from his retirement and contest elections. He said that there are many leaders in the BJP who are pained with the way ‘one political family’ is taking all the crucial calls.

The leader went on to make an emotional appeal to the BJP cadre where he asked them to ensure the BJP wins in the Lok Sabha Elections 2024.

“My heart is with BJP, my fight is against the dynasts. There is anger amongst the backward classes, especially the Kurubas, the community I belong to. Yediyurappa has not given a single seat to us. I request all those who are upset with the dynastic politics of BSY, they should express it openly, but at no point cause the defeat of the BJP in Karnataka,” Eshwarappa said.

Karnataka BJP state president, BY Vijayendra, who stated that the ‘Eswarappa issue will end soon’, went on to say that Lok Sabha polls will make it clear whether Yediyurappa, who cycled across the state to strengthen the BJP, has been the force behind the BJP or the one ‘strangling it to death’.

“If Vijayendra tries to reach out to me to try and resolve the issue, I will point blank ask him not to meet me,” Eshwarappa responded when asked if the BJP state president had reached out to him.

On a question as to whether he would retract his decision if he receives a call from PM Modi himself to try and convince him to withdraw his decision to contest alone, Eshwarappa quipped, “I will list out the problems threadbare in front of him.”


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