Yeddy physically with BJP, mentally with Sriramulu?

Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa agreed to campaign for the BJP in the Bellary (Rural) by-poll yesterday, but insiders said the star campaigner was mentally with opponent candidate B Sriramulu.

Amidst speculations about Yeddyurappa's plans for dividing the BJP to launch his own political outfit, it was believed that he would not participate in the campaign unless given the party leadership in the state. The dilemma ended when he  attended a meeting on the electoral strategy and agreed to campaign for the party.

State BJP President KS Eshwarappa, former chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa and his predecessor D V Sadananda Gowda interact during a meeting on Bellary by-polls yesterday

"I will campaign for the party in Bellary for thee days and state party president K S Eswarappa and Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda will be with me. And I am sure the BJP will win the election," Yeddyurappa said.

He said he would make a pilgrimage to Vaishnodevi shrine on November 20 and return the next day to participate in the election campaign for three days.

While at the meeting it was decided to go for the polls under a trinity leadership of Eswarappa, Sadananda and Yeddyurappa, party spokespersons said a collective leadership was steering the party in the poll.

"Although the initial trends favoured Sriramulu, the situation has changed and the BJP surely has an edge over the rivals. And Yeddyurappa's presence will add to the strength," said Ayanur Manjunath, BJP spokesperson.

However, sources close to the former CM said, "Yeddyurappa's future course for his political career is not yet decided. He is still in the party and wants to avoid being seen as an anti-party element and his decision to campaign for the BJP is simply a politically correct move," said a minister from his camp.

In Bellary, the voting communities like Lingayat and Balija are decisive and they are understood to have decided to back the BJP, while the truck owners, who have suffered losses, thanks to the Reddys, are working against Sriramulu.

These developments have made the results of the poll unpredictable, which otherwise was a forgone conclusion in favour of Sriramulu. The Yeddyurappa camp has apparently decided not to take chances because the former CM would lose his relevance in the BJP if the party wins without his presence.
"The situation is somewhat tricky. If the party wins without his presence, Yeddyurappa will lose his hold. And if the BJP loses, then the blame will be on him. So, an appearance is better for him regardless of the outcome of the polls," said the minister.

The sources also said that Sriramulu entered the fray as an independent candidate at the behest of Yeddyurappa and JD(S) boss Deve Gowda and the former chief would only work for his victory.

Yeddyurappa had camped in Koppal when the by-poll was held recently, and he ensured BJP's victory. But, his participation in the Bellary (Rural) by-poll is visibly half-hearted.

When questioned about this Manjunath said, "The present political situation differs from that of the Koppal by-poll. It was under Yeddyurappa's leadership that we went for the poll and now it is a collective leadership we are looking at."

Earlier, Sadananda had sprung a surprise by saying Sriramulu would be invited to join the party post poll in case he wins. While this had created confusion among the ranks and files of the party, the leaders are understood to have sought clarification from the CM and finally decided to close the party doors permanently on Sriramulu.

"It is true that initially we tried to convince him to contest the poll with the BJP ticket, but now the situation is changed and the leaders decided in the meeting to close the doors on Sriramulu. He will not be allowed to rejoin the BJP under any circumstance," said Manjunath.

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