BJP Wins BBMP Polls, But Mayor Selection Exposes Troubles Within

There were two mayor candidates from the BJP – one from the RSS faction and another from the Yediyurappa camp.

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Opinion
3 min read
BJP corporators protest inside the council hall of BBMP even as Bengaluru mayor presents the 2019-20 budget for the city on Monday, 18 February.
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After a four-year-long wait, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken control of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bengaluru's city corporation. But even in victory, the events that led to the election poses concern for BJP leaders, especially Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.

Even before the mayoral election on Tuesday, 1 October, the BJP was certain to win since they had numbers. On Tuesday morning, when the BBMP was getting ready for the polls, to the party’s surprise there were two mayor candidates from the BJP – one allegedly from the RSS faction and another from the Yediyurappa camp.

It was only after several rounds of meetings that Yediyurappa loyalist Padmanabha Reddy withdrew his nomination.

BJP Control All Three Governments

Davanagere: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Karnataka chief BS Yediyurappa during a BJP rally ahead of Karnataka Assembly Polls at Davanagere, Karnataka on 27 Feb 2018. (Photo: IANS)
Davanagere: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Karnataka chief BS Yediyurappa during a BJP rally ahead of Karnataka Assembly Polls at Davanagere, Karnataka on 27 Feb 2018. (Photo: IANS)

With the BJP winning the BBMP, the saffron party now controls governments of the country, state and the state capital.

Unlike many other city councils, in Karnataka even the MLAs and MPs elected from Bengaluru get a chance to vote in the BBMP election. Thus, the total number of votes in the BBMP elections were 257, including 5 Lok Sabha members, 9 Rajya Sabha Members, 23 MLAs and 22 MLCs.

On Tuesday, only 249 were present during the election. The BJP candidate Gautham Kumar won 129 votes, while the Congress-JD(S) candidate won only 112 votes.

The numbers went in BJP’s favour as five MLAs from Bengaluru had resigned and a few independent corporators voted for the BJP.

Yediyurappa's Mounting Troubles

CM BS Yeddyurappa. 
CM BS Yeddyurappa. 
(Photo: PTI)

Aware that they will be able to win the mayoral elections, Chief Minister Yediyurappa had formed a committee under MLA S Raghu to select the mayor candidate. However, this committee was scrapped, and a meeting was held under BJP party president Naleen Kumar Kateel to select the mayor candidate.

Even during the meeting, Yediyurappa’s camp pushed for his loyalist Padmanabha Reddy, while Kateel wanted Jakkur corporator Muneendra Kumar to be the next mayor. After much back and forth, the BJP president didn’t agree on Yediyurappa’s choice and settled for Jogupalaya corporator Gautham Jain following a meeting on Monday night.

Just when it was assumed the drama was over, hours before the poll, both Reddy and Jain filed the nominations for mayor’s post. It was only five minutes before the poll that Reddy withdrew his nomination.

BJP leaders went on an offensive to hide the cracks in the party after this drama unfolded. Senior BJP leader from Bengaluru R Ashok told media that the second nomination was procedural. “The second nomination was just a backup, in case there were any problems with the nomination of Gautham. We want to make it clear that Gautham is our candidate,” he said.

The turf war between RSS strongman BL Santosh and BS Yediyurappa has been going for years in the state. Being the only mass leader in the BJP, Yediyurappa has been able to keep himself relevant in the party despite the attempts to bring him down. However, Santosh, who was elevated to position of national general secretary (organisation), has been asserting himself in the state. The appointment of the Hindutva hardliner Kateel as the BJP state president too is credited to Santosh.

Thus, his mayor candidate, who has served in BBMP’s opposition for four years getting sidelined is a big snub for the Yediyurappa.

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