Factionalism in the state unit of the BJP raised its ugly face again on Saturday when senior leaders Arun Jaitley and Dharmendra Pradhan failed to select a leader to head the state unit in place of incumbent K S Eshwarappa.
Both Jaitley and Pradhan heard senior leaders for nearly four hours in one-on-one meetings as well as at the core committee meeting and left for Delhi without making any announcement.
They would convey to party national president Rajnath Singh what transpired in the meetings. Singh may announce the new president next week.
The party may not have finalised the name of the person to lead the party in the April-May Assembly elections. But the party seems be in favour of somebody who enjoys the confidence of the Sangh Parivar. The party feels that this will help them perform better in the polls.
There are three lobbies in the Sangh in the state. While Sangh leaders of Hubli are favouring Prahlad Joshi, MP, to become the president, the coastal faction is in favour of D V Sadananda Gowda. But the Bangalore faction is inclined towards R Ashoka, it is said. But the national leaders failed to find a face that can represent the party across the state.
After all the discussions, the race seems to have been now narrowed down between Sadananda Gowda, former chief minister and a former president, and Nalin Kumar Kateel, MP from Dakshina Kannada. Both are from the coastal region, where the BJP feels that its base is still strong.
The names of three other aspirants, Ashoka, Joshi and Govind Karjol, seem to be out of contention.
Sources said Sadananda Gowda seems to be ahead in the race though he is not liked by seniors. The absence of B S Yeddyurappa in the party has become a positive factor for Gowda. Yeddyurappa had anointed Gowda as the chief minister and also ensured his ouster.
The factors helping Gowda to claim the post are his experience as the president for many years, his honest image and the support of some senior Sangh leaders. He has also lobbied hard in Delhi for the post. He has been arguing that when he was forced to quit as the chief minister, the party had assured him of president post.
The supporters of Kateel have done their best to project him as a leader who can reconcile rival factions of the party. But some seniors are opposing him as he is not a familiar face across the State and his capability can’t be put to test when the party is facing the lections.
State leaders may finally accept any decision taken by the high command because there is hardly any time left for the party for the polls. The president post, to some extent, has also lost its sheen as Shettar has been projected as the chief ministerial candidate.