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BJP campaign hit by protests as BSY says son won’t contest against Siddaramaiah Jr

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Voters and political observers were looking forward to what promised to be a high-voltage campaign between the sons of two local stalwarts.

Bengaluru: The BJP’s campaign in Karnataka hit a spot of rough weather Monday as chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa announced his son won’t contest from Varuna, triggering unrest among supporters. It was earlier made known that B.Y. Vijayendra would file his nomination papers from the seat Monday.

The Congress candidate for Varuna is chief minister Siddaramaiah’s son Yathindra, and voters and political observers were looking forward to what promised to be a high-voltage campaign between the sons of two local stalwarts.

The deadline to file nomination papers for the 12 May Karnataka assembly election expires Tuesday, but the BJP is yet to announce its candidate for Varuna, represented by Siddaramaiah since 2008. The party has also not announced its candidate for Badami, one of the two constituencies the CM will contest from.

Vijayendra had been campaigning in Varuna since the election dates were announced, which spurred the belief, in the party and among constituents, that he would be the BJP candidate.

‘Brass caught off-guard’

Reports that Vijayendra was set to file his nomination, when the BJP hadn’t announced his candidature, allegedly did not go down well with the party brass in Delhi. Soon afterwards, Yeddyurappa is reported to have received a call from BJP general secretary Ram Lal, who conveyed the high command’s “extreme displeasure” to him. According to BJP sources, BSY was asked how he could take a call on Vijayendra before receiving the party’s go-ahead.

Later, at a BJP election rally in Nanjangud, near Mysuru, Yeddyurappa said his son won’t be contesting from Varuna, adding that the party would field a “common man” instead.

“Vijayendra is not filing his nomination today, a common man (party worker) will be fielded and he will be filing the nomination,” Yeddyurappa said.

The announcement triggered protests by his supporters that were only brought under control after a lathicharge. As Yeddyurappa left the stage, angry workers climbed up and damaged furniture. They even tried to stop the cars of Vijayendra and other party leaders as they tried to drive away to know why he was denied the ticket.

The ‘real’ plan?

In a statement, BSY later said that, “after deliberations with my son”, he had advised him against contesting from Varuna this election. “I have advised him that, instead of being a candidate, he should work in the Mysuru and Chamarajanagara districts and take part in strengthening the party and mobilising party workers,” he added.

“Party leaders and all of us will select a suitable candidate (for Varuna) and work towards their victory,” he said.

Sources in the BJP pointed to the unrest and suggested that BSY’s announcement could have been an attempt to pressure the party high command to nominate Vijayendra.

According to party sources, one of the reasons the BJP has not nominated a candidate for Varuna is an internal survey whose conclusions were not favourable to Vijayendra.

The ‘other’ candidate

Interestingly, a week ago, a man named T. Basavaraju filed his nomination from Varuna under the BJP symbol. The state election commission website reflects his name, but sources in the BJP said he did not submit his ‘B form’ (which carries the party president’s signature acknowledging a nominee’s candidature) and thus his nomination did not hold.

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