The decision was taken at a meeting of KJP senior leaders on Wednesday evening, where apparently there was no unanimity on merging the outfit with the BJP though Yeddyurappa hinted that he wanted to return to the BJP.

"The merger issue was not discussed. The decision was to retain KJP's independent identity and be part of the NDA," KJP spokesperson and former Union Minister V Dhananjaya Kumar said.

However the merger issue was likely to come up at Thursday's meeting of KJP district leaders with Yeddyurappa. KJP sources said that Yeddyurappa wants to be assured that not only he but his supporters who left the BJP with him would also be treated fairly as a condition for the merger. Though there is speculation that BJP president Rajnath Singh, Modi and several other party central leaders want Yeddyurappa's return, a section in the Karnataka unit is against it. Hence a decision on merger would be taken once these issues were sorted out.

The BJP lost power to the Congress in the May 5 Karnataka Assembly elections and one of the factors that led to the defeat was Yeddyurappa quitting the party to fight the polls heading the KJP.

The BJP won only 40 seats in the 225-member assembly. The KJP fared worse, winning just six seats, but the BJP leaders acknowledged that its presence in the fray heavily damaged their party. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won 19 of the 28 seats with the Congress taking six and the Janata Dal-Secular six.


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