Bengaluru: There has been an unusual amount of interest in the state executive meet of the BJP in Karnataka that began today in Mysuru. The two-day meet, attended by state leaders and central representatives, is focussed on Mission 150 - the target of winning 150 out of 224 seats in Karnataka's Assembly elections scheduled for next year.
- Before the meet, KS Eshwarappa went againt state party leaders
- All eyes were on state BJP who need to be united for the upcoming polls
- Mission 150 targets winning 150 of 224 seats in 2018 Karnataka elections
But the real interest from the media and political watchers was on another, unstated mission - the urgent need for the state BJP to get its act together and be united in the countdown to those polls.
The run-up to the meet had seen defiance of state party president and former chief minister, BS Yeddyurappa by KS Eshwarappa, a Kuruba leader. In December last year, Mr Eshwarappa launched the Sangolli Rayana Brigade, a Dalit and backward class organisation, against the wishes of Mr Yeddyurappa. Late last month, he and his followers held a meeting in Bengaluru - to 'save' the party from what they said was Mr Yeddyurappa's autocratic style of functioning. Mr Yeddyurappa protested.
The BJP high command took notice of the row and four office bearers - two from each side - were removed by state in-charge Muralidhara Rao.
There was speculation whether Mr Eshwarappa would even attend the Mysuru meet. But he did arrive, one of the last leaders to do so. He told NDTV as he entered, "I do not wish to say anything none," in response to our questions on party unity. A meeting of the Sangolli Ratana Brigade, scheduled on Monday in Raichur has been postponed.
There were small problems that had been sorted out, Union Minister Ananth Kumar told NDTV. Former chief minister Jagadish Shettar said that he would only speak about party matters in the party forum - and that the meet was to focus on strategy for the election.
Karnataka was described by the BJP as its Gateway to the South - and Mr Yeddyurappa was its first chief minister in its first government in southern India in 2009. It earlier had an uneasy coalition with the Janata Dal Secular in the state which did not end well - but the party came back to form the government by itself.
Outwardly, the Mysuru meet is progressing peacefully. But the party clearly needs to deal with its unity before taking on the ruling Congress at the polls.