BJP National President Amit Shah on Friday reaffirmed that former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will be the party’s chief ministerial candidate for Karnataka in the 2018 Assembly polls. Though the party had made an announcement to this effect last year itself, Shah’s reiteration clears the air in the backdrop of the factional fight in the Karnataka unit of the party.

Ever since he was appointed as the president, Yeddyurappa had been facing off with his party colleague K S Eshwarappa, who had raised a banner of revolt against the Lingayat strongman. The infighting had gone on for months together, with Eshwarappa opposing Yeddyurappa’s “dictatorial” approach in handling the party affairs. Eshwarappa, along with other leaders had accused Yeddyurappa of favouring his loyalists while making appointments to various positions to the party.

Eshwarappa, who is the leader of the opposition in the Legislative Council had publicly attacked Yeddyurappa on several occasions by hosting conclaves under the Sangolli Rayanna Brigade and ‘Save BJP’ forums. Notwithstanding the continued slanging by Eshwarappa, Yeddyurappa had blamed the party’s joint general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh, for inciting the rebellion.

This had led to a full blown war between the two factions, much to the embarrassment of the central leadership which was riding high on its landslide victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Though Shah himself had pulled up both leaders personally, the duo had refused to quiet down. It was only after Eshwarappa announced to boycott the party’s state executive meeting in Mysuru earlier this month, did the high command decide to take stock of the situation. After being cautioned of consequences, Eshwarappa decided to toe the party line.

Yeddyurappa said that he was grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah for retaining confidence in him.

"The party aims to achieve its Mission 150 goal at any cost, and the responsibility of bringing BJP back to power is on me," he added.

Though Yeddyurappa had gained an upper hand over his rival, he took some time before warming up to Eshwarappa. He refused to acknowledge Eshwarappa during the two day executive meeting, fuelling further speculation. The duo however decided to bury the hatchet ahead of the launch of the ‘Janasampark Abhiyaan’, an exercise taken up by the party under Yeddyurappa’s leadership. Both Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa were finally seen together, hand in hand, in Tumakuru on May 18.

Sources in the Yeddyurappa camp said that Shah’s reaffirmation was clearing the confusions/doubts, if any. They said that all the party leaders had however resolved to fight the elections under Yeddyurappa’s leadership. “Eshwarappa too has said so on many occasions,” they said. Yeddyurappa has enjoyed the seat of power twice already - once for a brief period (one week) in November 2007; and for three and a half years in 2008, after he had led the BJP to victory for the first time in Karnataka.

He had to forsake his seat after he was indicted in the illegal mining and denotification cases, for which he had even faced imprisonment. He was subsequently cleared of all charges. The party had appointed him as the president in April 2016.