New Delhi: Amid brewing discontent in the Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the continuation of B.S. Yediyurappa as chief minister, the party’s state in-charge Arun Singh has ruled out any change in leadership.
Between Wednesday and Friday this week, Singh held review meetings with ministers and met over 50 MLAs in Bengaluru and heard their grievances.
Speaking to ThePrint, he said only two-three MLAs are “making this noise”. “I have told them to desist from making allegations and causing harm to the party’s image. Rest are doing good work in their constituencies,” he said.
According to sources, Singh has asked the state BJP president, Nalin Kumar Kateel to issue notice to A.H. Vishwanath for continuously making public statements against the party line.
Vishwanath has leveled corruption charges against the CM and alleged that the CM’s son, B.Y. Vijendra is running the government in the state.
However, Singh’s categorical refusal on leadership change didn’t deter dissidents in their call to replace Yediyurappa as they stepped up the attack on the CM. Vishwanath even attacked the central high command, questioning if they are taking money from Yediyurappa.
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Singh, who is back in Delhi, spent three days in Bengaluru, reviewed the state of affairs and heard individual grievances of the MLAs, few of whom complained against Yediyurappa. However, a large number of MLAs supported the CM too.
“Only two-three MLAs are hurting the party image. One of them has no idea of BJP culture. We have taken note of their statements made in public… I have requested all MLAs to work for the party and reach out to people in conveying the state government and central schemes,” said Singh.
Singh’s visit was to take stock of the political situation in the state. He also sought to tell ministers and MLAs to organise organisational work and camp in their respective constituencies for vaccination and Yoga Day.
However, the dissidents tried to put pressure on the high command to remove Yediyurappa. While Singh told dissident MLAs to not air their views in public, these leaders have continued making allegations about the CM’s functioning.
The dissident allegations
Vishwanath, who is continuously embarrassing the party high command, told Singh that the issue is not with Yediyurappa but his advancing age, which has made him indecisive and is hampering the party’s prospects in Karnataka.
A former Janata Dal (Secular) leader, who was among the 17 leaders who were brought into the BJP fold during Operation Kamala, Vishwanath also suggested to BJP in-charge to select a leader from Veerashaiva community as CM.
Despite being asked to refrain from speaking out against the party line, Vishwanath soon after meeting said that Yediyurappa should become a margdarshak as he lacked the spirit to lead, and his son is running the government, interfering in other departments and making governance difficult.
He also attacked the central leadership. “I am wondering why BJP leadership is not replacing Yediyurappa despite various complaints. Are they taking money from Yediyurappa,” he told reporters in Bengaluru earlier this week.
Arvind Bellad, another chief ministerial aspirant, even made allegations of phone tapping by the government — in an embarrassment for the visiting in-charge. Another MLA, B.R. Patil Yatnal also made it clear the dissident group will not settle for anything less than the removal of the CM.
Singh didn’t meet these two MLAs during his visit.
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No worries for Yediyurappa for now
The CM’s close confidant and political secretary, M.P. Renukacharya and party MLA S.R. Vishwanath reacted sharply to Vishwanath’s allegations, calling them baseless. The Yediyurappa camp MLAs also held a meeting Thursday at the residence of Renukacharya for counter-strategy.
A Karnataka BJP MLA and CM’s loyalist said, “This is not the first time that these MLAs have made allegations against Yediyurappa. Only notice has been served against one MLA. They might be getting strength from Delhi but this is not cause of concern for BSY, as he knows he will continue till the prime minister wants him to continue.”
The leader added, “No one else can cause problem for him as dissident MLAs are not even capable of winning their own seat without BSY.”
Another BJP minister in the state cabinet said, “This time BSY is playing very smartly. He knows his days are numbered but still he has time to retire as he is the compulsion of BJP high command. If he was disturbed without his consent, most of the MLAs will not accept others as head as no other leader has the acceptance of BSY and the government will not complete its tenure with a fragile mandate.”
The second leader said that Yediyurappa is accepting every term of the Centre and is periodically making statements that he will quit the CM post the day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asks him to.
“He is sending a message to his detractors that he is continuing as CM with the PM’s blessing as everyone knows his chemistry with Modi is strong and the latter knows his importance,” he said.
“Despite advanced age, the CM starts working by six in the morning. He is very much active and allegations against his son about interference in other departments are highly exaggerated by opponents,” said another senior BJP leader, adding that the Centre is aware that unlike other states, the Congress is not dormant in Karnataka and the government is in power due to BSY.
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