BSY loyalists, rebels play the waiting game

Dissidence:

BSY loyalists, rebels  play the waiting game

Finger-pointing: Excise Minister M P Renukacharya (right) in a heated argument with JD(S) MLCs in the Legislative Council on Thursday, after Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa described the Gowda family as “a curse on Karnataka”. DH Photo

After making some dissident noises in the backdrop of fresh allegations of corruption against Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, the rebels within the Karnataka BJP on Thursday chose to lie low till such time they receive any clear signals from the party’s central leadership.

This became clear when the disgruntled party legislators, after holding strategy meetings for two successive days, preferred not to congregate on Thursday.

The Yeddyurappa and the state BJP chief K S Eshwarappa camps continued to consolidate their position, but so far neither side has expressed what its next move could be. But Yeddyurappa baiters, comprising about 50 legislators and some Cabinet ministers who had raised a banner of revolt against the chief minister whose “style of functioning” was not acceptable to them, are pinning their hopes on the central leadership.

Sources in the dissident camp claimed they have been assured by some central BJP leaders that their complaints against Yeddyurappa would be considered appropriately, although what action might be taken has yet to be made known. While they would play the strategic card of lying low for the moment, the Yeddyurappa detractors, on the instruction of the central leadership, will likely attend a breakfast meeting called by the chief minister on Friday. Yeddyurappa extended his invitation to all BJP legislators to put up a show of unity, but Eashwarappa will not attend the meeting.

The BJP central leadership is likely to take a call on the disgruntled legislators’ demands once the bypolls to three Assembly constituencies and elections in four states and Puduchery Union Territory are completed. Besides, Dharmendra Pradhan, who is in charge of BJP affairs in Karnataka, is busy working out the party’s election strategy for Assam.

Sources in the Yeddyurappa camp said some of the rebels, including Tourism Minister Janardhana Reddy, have their own personal agendas met by the chief minister. But, the sources said, Yeddyurappa has not yielded to those pressures.

The chief minister, of course, denies there any dissidence within the party since Wednesday’s meeting of the rebel legislators was held the party office and not at some resort. “So it is not proper to call it a rebels’ meeting,” he told reporters here.

While Yeddyurappa has weathered a series of intra-party rebellion over the last three years, the latest round of dissidence appears to be gaining political mileage as it is being spearheaded by political heavyweights like Eshwarappa and BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar. Janardhana Reddy and his coterie are also actively backing the latest move to push Yeddyurappa out.

What is, however, clear is that unlike in the past this time around the strength of the Yeddyurappa camp has dwindled. Some prominent Lingayat leaders, including Jagadish Shettar and Umesh Katti have thrown in their lot with the Eshwarappa camp which also has the support of a dozen Vokkaliga MLAs. State Home Minister, R Ashoka, a prominent Vokkaliga leader, has so far remained neutral.

On behalf of the disgruntled legislators, Eshwarappa and Ananth Humar, are learnt to have informed the central leaders that the image of the party as well as the government has suffered because of the alleged involvement of Yeddyurappa and his family members in one scam after another.

The rebels’ other grouse is that Yeddyurappa has been neglecting them, sidelining old-timers and taking unilateral decisions without taking senior leaders into confidence.

The Yeddyurappa camp on Thursday tried to nip the rebellion with some leaders talking to a few dissident legislators. Yeddyurappa’s close confidants, Basavaraj Bommai and Lakshman Savadi, have been entrusted with the task of talking to the rebels. The chief minister held a meeting with his loyalists at his official residence before emplaning for Gadag.

The group supporting Yeddyurappa is confident that the "Lingayat factor" will once again work in their favour. In November last year, Yeddyurappa had stood his ground and refused to give in, claiming that any step to remove him as chief minister would cost the party the Lingayat votes.

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