Yeddyurappa fights it alone as loyalists cling on to power
Ministers to refrain from attending Haveri convention
An air balloon, emblazoned with the photograph of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and the name of his Karnataka Janata Party (KJP), flies high atop a college grounds here. On the ground, preparations are in full swing for the formal launch of the party on Sunday.
The balloon appears to be a symbolic representation of Yeddyurappa who is all alone in his fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as in building the fledgling KJP.
On Saturday, the estranged BJP leader was busy checking arrangements being made for the mega convention at KLE Society’s Gudleppa Hallikeri College grounds here.
With none of his prominent supporters — ministers in the Jagadish Shettar cabinet — daring to come anywhere near the venue, it is now almost certain that they will all abstain from Sunday’s rally. The sole exception, however, would be B J Puttaswamy, who was dropped from the ministry on Saturday.
A group of ministers, branded as those from Yeddyurappa's quota in the Cabinet, on Friday held a meeting in Belgaum and decided to stay away from the Haveri rally even as they reiterated their loyalty to Yeddyurappa.
It is obvious that they do not want to face the wrath of the party and lose their ministership. At the outset, they say it is not morally correct for them to remain in the Cabinet and also attend the KJP rally.
While Public Works Development minister C M Udasi categorically ruled out participating in the convention, Agriculture Minister Umesh Katti said no minister would go to Haveri.
They have decided not even to attend the breakfast to be hosted by Shivaraj Sajjan, BJP MLC, at his Haveri residence. Sajjan has taken the lead in organising the KJP convention.
“Having breakfast with Sajjan is as good as attending the KJP convention. So, I am not attending the convention although I have regard for Yeddyurappa,” Katti remarked.
The breakfast meeting, touted to be Yeddyurappa’s show of strength, has lost significance as ministers Udasi, Katti, Basavaraj Bommai, Murugesh Nirani, Shobha Karandlaje, V Somanna and Sunil Valyapure are going to stay away. Only a few legislators are likely to make it to the breakfast meeting.
Although Yeddyurappa had extended a personal invitation to ministers and MLAs at the Suvarna Soudha in Belgaum on Friday, it has made little impact. On Saturday, the former chief minister feigned ignorance about the breakfast arrangements being made by Sajjan. “What breakfast? I am not aware. I am not hosting a breakfast for anyone. If anyone else is, I am not aware of it,” he said.
‘We are with BSY’
On Saturday, M D Lakshminarayana, MLC, was seen sitting along with some BJP workers to supervise arrangements at the convention venue. But, one BJP legislator who is not shying away from being seen with Yeddyurappa is Nehru Olekar, the Haveri MLA. “The KJP is not being built with the help of any minister but with that of workers,” he said.
Olekar claimed that 25 to 40 MLAs will attend the convention and, “only those who are daring like him will go on the stage.”
BJP legislators G Shivanna of Ranebennur and Suresh Gowda Patil of Byadgi were also at the venue to express their solidarity with Yeddyurappa.
On his journey to Karjagi to visit Sri Raghavendra Mutt, Yeddyurappa told Deccan Herald that he is not banking on any legislators or ministers to build the KJP.
Probably, realising that no one is ready to sacrifice their ministership, he said, “I have not invited anyone to the convention. I do not want to take the blame for bringing down the Shettar government. Workers and people are my strength.”
When it was mentioned that he had failed to rope in leaders from other parties, Yeddurappa said, “I am only looking for small fish and not the big ones.”