BJP bonhomie? Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai with BS Yediyurappa: The former CM is emerging as an alternate power centre in the run-up to the cabinet formation. Pic: PTI

Why Karnataka BJP can't pick Opposition leader and party chief yet

Almost two months after the electoral debacle in Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is still reeling from the loss, as the legislative unit of the party in the state is yet to pick a Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state.

To make matters worse, there is no consensus on the name of the new state president as well, this is the first time that the state Budget Session will not have a LoP in the House. Senior BJP leaders in New Delhi are annoyed that the divisions within the state unit have created more problems for the leadership.

“It is a matter of great concern that we do not have a Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, even after nearly two months. We will have Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka in 10-11 months, and the central leadership is clearly annoyed,” said a top party leader in New Delhi.

Tussle between BSY and BL Santosh

Senior leaders say the tussle between former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and BL Santhosh, general secretary (organisation) of the BJP, has divided the state unit completely. While Yediyurappa wants his son BY Vijayendra to get a prominent position in the organisation, he is also pushing Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje to get a top post.

Also Read: No proposal yet to revoke cow slaughter law: Karnataka government

The situation has now become tricky even for Yediyurappa or the BSY camp because former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, a prominent Lingayat leader, is also keen to become the Opposition leader. To further complicate the race for the top post, senior BJP leader, R Ashok, who belongs to the Vokkaliga community, is also eying the post of LoP.

While BSY wants his prodigies to become the Opposition leader as well as the state BJP president, BL Santhosh, another power centre in Karnataka, wants his close aides like Dr. CN Ashwatha Narayana, a Vokkaliga, and V Sunil Kumar, who belongs to the Other Backward Classes (OBC), to become the state president or the Opposition leader.

Realising that Yediyurappa has a strong influence over the Lingayat community in the state, it is being speculated that BL Santhosh is also promoting the names of Basanagouda Patil Yetnal and Aravind Bellada as options for the two posts. However, the candidature of Yetnal is being vehemently opposed by Yediyurappa.

A BJP leader told The Federal that during Yediyurappa’s recent visit to New Delhi, the issue of appointing LoP and state president was discussed with the central leadership.

With both sides not ready to compromise, the central leadership is considering pleasing both factions by giving one person from each camp for both posts.

Yeddy wants to groom son

It’s learnt the first choice is Yediyurappa’s son BY Vijayendra, the present vice-president of the state unit, and also an MLA from BSY’s home turf, Shikaripura, to become the state unit president.

Yediyurappa wants to groom his son as the future Lingayat leader of Karnataka. Vijayendra has the potential to become the state president as he worked in various by-polls to make candidates win, said a state leader.

Also Read: Karnataka BJP has no Opposition leader in Assembly weeks after rout

Yediyurappa’s plans to push for Vijaynedra have made former CM Bommai anxious as the central leadership may not offer two prominent posts to Lingayat community. If Yediyurappa succeeds, the chances of Sunil Kumar becoming the opposition leader will go up.

Given that Lok Sabha elections are on the doorstep, former home minister Araga Jnanendra could be made the new LoP as the BJP does not want to neglect the Vokkaliga community.

“We are waiting to see the nominations for the two important posts. It is a difficult situation for us because we do not have a LoP. Officially, the central leadership can decide on this any time now, but we do not rule out the possibility of a delay until Monday,” said a BJP leader in Bengaluru.

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