Katti, Bommai to stay put; jolt to BSY

BJP starts meeting to select nominees
Last Updated 30 March 2013, 21:05 IST

In a major blow to Karnataka Janatha Party (KJP) leader B S Yeddyurappa, two of his close loyalists— Umesh Katti and Basavaraj Bommai—have decided to continue in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

 They also attended a district-level consultation meeting of the party on Saturday to shortlist candidates for the Assembly elections.

Katti and Bommai were said to be vacillating. However,  the two leaders, apparently considering their long-term political interests, have decided to remain in the BJP and contest the elections.

Some senior leaders close to Yeddyurappa may also contest the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. They feel that the BJP is a better choice than the KJP, which is a regional party.

Bommai is considered to be a leader of BJP legislators in North Karnataka and is regarded as a political strategist.

 His decision to stay put in the party will definitely influence others, including Murugesh Nirani, Raju Gowda and Pratap Gowda Patil.

In addition, BJP leaders who were eyeing for Congress tickets are also disappointed because the party is reluctant to field “outsiders”.

BJP Rajya Sabha member Prabhakar Kore, who runs a chain of educational institutions in Belgaum, is also continuing in the BJP despite an invitation from the Congress.

The BJP strategy of playing the waiting game by delaying the announcement of candidates seems to be paying dividends. Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani, another Yeddyurappa loyalist, is also said to be having second thoughts on quitting the BJP. Nirani has been threatening that he will join the KJP if he is not given ticket for the Jamkhandi Assembly seat. Now, Nirani repre­sents the Bilagi Assembly constituency. 

Yeddyurappa has been eagerly waiting for the entry of Murugesh Nirani, Raju Gowda and Pratap Gowda Patil into his party.  Yeddyurappa had often said that he had floated the party trusting that all his supporters, including Bommai, Nirani and Katti, will stand by him.

Katti is known for his immense political clout in Belgaum district that sends 18 legislators to the Assembly. The BJP had won 11 seats from this electorally powerful district.

Nirani also has good following in Bagalkot district, while Bommai, with his shrewd political insights, would have been a good resource person for Yeddyurappa ahead of the polls.

The meeting to shortlist candidates would continue on Sunday. Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajnagar, Belgaum, Uttara Kannada and Haveri districts were covered on Saturday.

During the party’s recent core committee meeting, the BJP had failed to come to a consensus on finalising the list in several constituencies with multiple contenders.
It had also failed to finalise party tickets to sitting legislators who are facing corruption charges. The election committee of the party will be meeting in the next three to four days, sources said.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Higher Education Minister C T Ravi said the party would release its first list of candidates during the first week of April.

Ravi said a mammoth workers’ convention would be held in Bangalore on April 8. It would be attended by party national president Rajnath Singh, senior leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley.

(Published 29 March 2013, 17:35 IST)

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