BJP faces heat of growing discontent in Athani, Gokak

Deputy Chief Minister Lakshman Savadi pleads with his supporters to end protest ahead of the BJP workers’ meeting in the bypoll-bound Athani on Sunday. DH Photo

The ruling BJP is facing the heat of growing dissatisfaction among the party leaders and workers of the bypoll-bound Athani and Gokak constituencies.

The supporters of Deputy Chief Minister Lakshman Savadi and Ashok Pujar staged demonstrations in Athani and Gokak, respectively, against the party leadership’s decision to deny tickets to their leaders.

During a preparatory meeting in Athani on Sunday, Savadi’s supporters and party workers vented their ire at Mahesh Kumatahalli, the disqualified legislator who’s been given the party ticket. The unruly scenes at the meeting left party leaders Jagadish Shettar, Mahantesh Kavatgimath, P Rajiv, D M Aihole among others embarrassed.

“Mahesh Kumatahalli had hurled expletives, in the past, at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yediyurappa. How can we work or vote for such a person? We will not support him, come what may,” the agitating party workers are said to have told the election observers during the meeting.

District in-charge minister, also election in-charge for Athani, Jagadish Shettar, told the meeting that Savadi would be given an appropriate position and urged the workers to support Kumatahalli to strengthen Yediyurappa’s hands.

Lakshman Savadi pleaded with his supporters to shun differences and work for the victory of the party candidate. “I am a loyal BJP worker. The leadership has assigned me the responsibility of steering party candidates in Athani and Gokak to victory. Supporters are pained over the ticket distribution. We should stop this here and work for the victory of Mahesh Kumatahalli.”

Earlier, supporters of Savadi laid siege to their leader’s house and tried to prevent him from attending the meeting. The agitators gheraoed the election observers Shettar, Kavatagimath and P Rajiv, demanding the party ticket for Savadi.

Pujar for JD(S)?

The story is no different in Gokak, where Ashok Pujar was denied BJP ticket to make way for the disqualified Congress MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi. Unamused by the party’s decision, supporters of Pujar staged a protest in front of their leader’s house on Sunday.

Efforts by Union minister Suresh Angadi, Ramesh Jarkiholi, A S Patil Nadahalli and others to pacify the sulking Pujar seem to have failed.

It is said, Pujar may enter the Gokak fray as JD(S) candidate.

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