Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Tuesday said the central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party had discussed with him before finalising the names of two "low profile" party workers as candidates for the June 19 Rajya Sabha polls from the state.
The BJP's central leadership on Monday had sprung a surprise by fielding Eranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti as its candidates for the Rajya Sabha election, ignoring the recommendations of the party’s state unit.
"BJP's central leaders have given Rajya Sabha tickets to two ordinary workers of the party and thereby have given a gift to karyakartas. I compliment Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party national president JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah for this," Yediyurappa said.
Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, he expressed the confidence that both candidates would work effectively in the Rajya Sabha.
"Only the BJP can take such decisions and give opportunity to ordinary karyakartas. From our core committee (state) we had sent some names, but ultimately our national president spoke to me and said it has been decided to give tickets to ordinary party workers, we discussed it, after which the two names have been finalised."
The state BJP core committee on Saturday had recommended three names to the high command as probable candidates -- Ramesh Katti, the brother of senior MLA Umesh Katti; incumbent Prabhakar Kore; and hotelier Prakash Shetty.
Ignoring the state unit's recommendation, the names of two low-key workers Kadadi and Gasti, who have been associated with the party organisation for long, were announced on Monday afternoon by the central leadership.
Responding to a question about the new names other than the ones decided by the state core committee being announced, Yediyurappa said, "We had sent the names after deciding in the core committee. In Delhi under the leadership of the prime minister, senior leaders have met and decided to give tickets to ordinary party workers."
"It is not for our state alone, the decision is applicable to other states also, I welcome it," he said.
While Kadadi, a Lingayat, is the party's Belagavi division in-charge, Gasti from the Savitha Samaj (barber community) from Raichur district is the party in-charge for the Bellary division.
Both have an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad background and have worked for the organisation at the grass root level for decades.
The announcement of their names came as a complete surprise to the party’s state unit and has certainly given a clear message to its leadership, a senior party functionary said, adding, "It is a clear indication that loyalty to the party and ideology are what matters, and not to any particular leader."
It is also part of a strategy to nurture and elevate second-rung leaders, he noted.
The move is also being seen as a setback to Yediyurappa, as names considered close to him have not been considered.
This has come at a time when there is speculation about dissidence within the state BJP against his leadership, with several MLAs, especially from north Karnataka, recently holding separate meetings.
Elections are scheduled on June 19 to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka, represented by Rajeev Gowda and B K Hariprasad of the Congress, Prabhakar Kore of the BJP and D Kupendra Reddy of the Janata Dal-Secular, that will fall vacant on June 25 on their retirement.
The BJP, with 117 members in the assembly (including Speaker), can ensure easy victory in two seats.