BJP launches Karnataka poll campaign, suspends rebel MPs

Bangalore, April 8 (IANS) Karnataka’s ruling BJP Monday launched its campaign for the May 5 assembly polls with a huge rally where party president Rajnath Singh asserted there was no place in the party for people indulging in corruption.

Coinciding with the rally, the party suspended its two Lok Sabha members from the state, B.Y. Raghavendra, son of former BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, and Shivakumar Udasi, son of former BJP minister C.M. Udasi, for anti-party activities.

Raghavenda, MP from Shimoga in central Karnataka, and Shivakumar, who represents Haveri in north Karnataka, have been openly working for the Karantaka Janata Party (KJP) headed by Yeddyurappa.

Yeddyurappa quit the BJP in November last year and became the founder-president of the KJP in December. Udasi senior subsequently quit the Jagadish Shettar ministry and the BJP to join the KJP.

Rajnath Singh, who addressed the rally through video-conferencing facility from New Delhi, acknowledged that Yeddyurappa’s leaving the party had created difficulties for it.

He, however, noted that the party had little option but to remove him from the chief minister’s post following allegation of corruption.

Yeddyurappa, BJP’s first chief minister in Karnataka, was forced out of office in July 2011 over mining bribery charges.

Rajnath Singh sought to scotch speculation that senior party leader L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi were reluctant to campaign for the party in Karnataka in view of the corruption scandals, infighting and desertions to Yeddyurappa’s party.

He said the two would campaign in the state.

Rajnath Singh and leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively could not attend the rally as the aircraft in which they were to fly to Bangalore developed snag a few minutes after taking off from New Delhi and had to return to the airport.

The rally was addressed by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, state BJP president Pralhad Joshi, party general secretary and Bangalore South Lok Sabha member H.N. Ananth Kumar and several state party leaders.

The BJP has declared Shettar as its chief ministerial candidate.

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