Amit Shah’s invite surprises Basanagouda Patil Yatnal

Belagavi: An unexpected invitation from BJP national president, Amit Shah  to former Union Minister, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, to meet him in Delhi for talks, ahead of the assembly polls in the state, has created a flutter in political circles here. 

Mr Yatnal had left the BJP, abusing most of  its leadership, a few years ago, and successfully contested elections to the legislative council as an independent. Now desperate to rejoin the BJP, he is said to have been pleasantly surprised by Mr Shah's invitation to Delhi for a meeting on February 13.

While many in the BJP could feel threatened by his re-entry into it, the top brass reportedly feels he could damage it in parts of north-Karnataka if ignored and boost its campaign if invited back. It is believed Mr Yatnal could be  projected as a powerful contender in Vijayapura against the Congress party's rising star, and Water Resources Minister, M B Patil.

With Ministers Patil and Vinay Kulkarni  failing to take the movement for a separate religious tag for Lingayats to its logical end, the  BJP  is said to be keen on projecting Mr Yatnal as a potential leader in the Lingayat stronghold. Besides enjoying the support of the dominant Lingayat community, he is idolised by the youth, who see him as a firebrand politician.

It was because of his vocal criticism of the BJP in the past that he was suspended from the party, prompting him to quit and join the JDS. But his friendship with that party did not last long either and he opted to contest the MLC elections as an independent.

Mr Yatnal recently admitted in Vijayapura that if he  rejoined the  BJP, it would be with a lot of fanfare. 

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