Bengaluru: A visibly angry B.S. Yediyurappa threatened to resign as Karnataka chief minister Wednesday when a Lingayat seer demanded that a BJP MLA from his community be inducted into the cabinet or face the group’s wrath.
Of late, there has been tremendous pressure on Yediyurappa because the BJP’s central leadership hasn’t given him the green light to expand his cabinet.
In the meantime, aspirants for ministerial berths — BJP leaders as well as the Congress and JD(S) rebels who resigned and were re-elected on BJP tickets — have been lobbying intensely, and are leaving no stone unturned to try and pull strings.
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‘Do not threaten me’
Yediyurappa was sharing the stage with Vachananda Swami of the Panchamasali sect of Lingayats at Davanagere in northern Karnataka Wednesday. The seer said if Murugesh Nirani, the MLA from Bilgi in Bagalkot district and a member of the Panchamasali community, is not made a minister, the sect would withdraw its support from Yediyurappa. Nirani served as industries minister in the Yediyurappa government between 2008 and 2011.
“Murugesh Nirani has stood with you like a rock. You should induct him into the cabinet, or else you will lose the Panchamasali Lingayats,” Vachananda Swami said.
Upon hearing this, an agitated Yediyurappa immediately stood up and warned the seer not to threaten him.
“How can you speak to me like this? I will leave right away. Do not threaten me. Your role is to advise me, but do not threaten me. This is not what you are supposed to be doing,” he told the swami.
As the CM prepared to leave the stage, the seer insisted that he sit down again, and tried to calm him down by saying he was only demanding justice for his community.
When Yediyurappa took the stage later, he said he was ready to resign if he has not been an “able CM”. Acknowledging the role of the 17 rebel Congress and JD(S) legislators in making him the chief minister, he also communicated to the seer that he was ready to take suggestions from him about how to run his government for the next three years, but was not ready to buckle under pressure.
“I’m ready to bow my head and listen to it… If you don’t want me, I’m even ready to resign and go home. I’m not someone who wants to stick to the chair,” the CM said.
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Impact on public image
Karnataka’s council of ministers currently consists of 18 individuals, including the CM, while the total sanctioned strength is 34. However, expanding the ministry is not going to be an easy task, as Yediyurappa will have to strike a balance between the turncoat legislators and the old guard who were ignored in the first round.
Sources close to Yediyurappa said the Davanagere incident made the CM a “hero” and sent out a clear message that those who want to use “influence” to become ministers will not be entertained.
“He has been able to send out a message to all that he will not buckle under pressure of anybody, be it a seer or an MLA. He has come out as a true hero, a man who will stand by his promise of inducting the (turncoat) MLAs and giving a chance to those who deserve it,” said an official in the Chief Minister’s Office.
However, political analysts Ramakrishna Upadhya disagreed, saying Yediyurappa’s public image is taking a beating in trying to find a balance in his cabinet.
“Yediyurappa is not one to buckle under pressure, but he is also being seen as a weak man and one who is reduced to a puppet. That is going to hurt him in the long run,” Upadhya said.
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I am no fan of Yadiyurappa. But, he has done what other timid politicians dared not do – put all these so-called “seers’ in their place. In Karnataka politics, every sect or caste has a Mutt, and a “seer”, who cannot see beyond his caste. Such people have been interfering in electoral politics too often. Politicians too have been guilty of hobnobbing with such pontiffs with the hope of garnering the votes of that particular sect. Especially, Lingayats and Vokkaligas are notorious for interference by pontiffs of their sects. It is good that Yadiyurappa has shows his place to this petty pontiff. He has received a lot of public support in Karnataka, including from other leading pontiffs. Ideally, if these seers want to play politics, they shed their saffron robe and enter electoral politics. They must not meddle in politics without any accountability.
SS want to live in politics by doing on regionalism cards. This type politics against Federalism.
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