Bangalore : The BJP’s Karnataka headache on Thursday took another twist with serious differences emerging between the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and senior party leader and Opposition leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.
Sushma Swaraj has put her foot down over the proposed merger of BSR Congress that has been worked out by Modi in a move to prevent splitting of votes in Karnataka.
BSR Congress is headed by B Sreeramalu who, at one point of time, was the favourite `son’ of Sushma. He always sought her blessings and called her a mother but fell out of grace after the mining scam exploded in the face of the BJP.
BSR, as Sreeramalu is known, is part of the Reddy troika of Bellary that shamed the BJP when the mining scam exploded in the face of the party.
The Karnataka unit of BJP and Modi are keen to see the merger of BSR Congress in BJP, which is considered to have over 3 per cent votes.
Sushma has shot off a In a letter to party president Rajnath Singh saying that ”tainted” leaders should not be allowed to be associated with the party at any cost. Earlier, senior party leader L K Advani had opposed the move to bring back B S Yeddyurappa into the party. But Modi brushed that aside considering the fact that he brings in 17 per cent of his community — the Lingayat – votes.
Said Sushma in Delhi, “I am opposed to the BSR alliance or merger with BJP in Karnataka. I have conveyed to Rajnath Singhji in writing that BJP must not permit this.’’
Sreeramalu had on Wednesday announced that his party was merging with the BJP two years after he quit the saffron outfit. Many see Sreeramulu’s move as a precursor to the entry of the Reddy brothers into active politics.
The Reddys had quit BJP after their arrest in the mining scam. The Reddy brothers floated their own party called BSR Congress under the leadership of their confidante and former Karnataka minister B Sreeramulu in 2012 to take on the BJP.
The Bellary Lok Sabha seat, reserved for STs, is currently represented by J.Shantha, a 40-year old political novice and sister of Sreeramulu. In 2009 elections, she won on a BJP ticket by a slender lead of 2243 votes against Congress nominee and former Chief Justice of Odisha High Court NY Hanumanthappa.
“I am returning to the BJP to help Narendra Modi become Prime Minister. At the moment, the nation is more important to me than my party,” he said before he announced the merger. He went on to claim that the merger had the ‘blessings’ of Sushma Swaraj – which now stands to be a falsehood. The BSR Congress won four seats in the 2013 assembly elections in Karnataka.