Bangalore, Aug. 16: A plan to merge B.S. Yeddyurappa’s fledgling Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) with the BJP is facing stiff opposition from three of his six MLAs who won their seats in the May Assembly polls.
While Yeddyurappa has been sending indications about returning to his former party with a possible merger, the three MLAs who had left the Congress earlier this year to join him have rejected the idea outright.
Party sources fear the KJP could split if the three MLAs — all popular leaders from north Karnataka of Yeddyurappa’s Lingayat caste — stick to their guns.
B.R. Patil, Gurupadappa Nagamarpalli and Guru Patil — who joined the KJP that was initially floated as a Lingayat alternative to national parties — have explained their position to the party leadership, the sources said.
“Although I can’t say for sure Yeddyurappa is planning a merger with the BJP, I, for one, cannot agree on ideological terms,” Patil said.
He added that he and the two others would prefer to remain Independents if Yeddyurappa went ahead with the merger plan. Technically, the three would be allowed to remain Independents in such a situation.
KJP seniors are speaking about sealing the merger deal during the visit of Narendra Modi to Bangalore in late September. “If Modi gets the green signal from L.K. Advani before he arrives to Bangalore, the merger will happen,” said an aide of Yeddyurappa.
While the BJP wouldn’t mind getting a few additional legislators and Lingayat support, courtesy Yeddyurappa, the Congress too has indicated that it would not be averse to having the KJP legislators back.
“We have no issues with them as all three were part of our philosophy of secular politics,” a Congress source said, adding a final decision would have to be taken by the state leadership in consultation with the high command.
For now, the KJP, the BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) have joined forces for the bypolls to the Mandya and Bangalore (Rural) Lok Sabha seats on August 21.
While the BJP withdrew its candidates in a last-minute deal with the Dal (Secular), the KJP is learnt to be working to defeat Congress nominees.
The realignment has left Anitha Kumaraswamy, wife of Dal (Secular) state chief H.D. Kumaraswamy who is contesting from Mandya, pitted against Kannada film actress and Congress candidate Ramya. In Bangalore (Rural), D.K. Suresh of the Congress faces S. Puttaraju of the Dal (Secular).
The BJP, still smarting from the Assembly poll rout, has stayed away from the bypolls as it does not enjoy much support in the two constituencies.
“We thought it better to back a party that can defeat the Congress,” said a source.
In return, the Dal (Secular) will support the BJP in the August 22 elections to three seats of the Legislative Council.