Tainted ministers will be on dais at Advani meeting

Tainted ministers will be on dais at Advani meeting

Party leadership changes its mind on keeping them out, fearing backlash from supporters of Yeddyurappa

Tainted ministers will be on dais at Advani meeting

 As it reaches the first ever BJP-ruled state in the south, party veteran L K Advani’s ‘anti-corruption’ yatra is in serious danger of losing credibility.

In a change of mind, the party’s state unit would allow ministers tainted by corruption charges to share the dais with Advani at the public meeting to be conducted here as part of his anti-corruption yatra on Sunday.

All ministers, including R Ashoka (Home) and Murugesh Nirani (Industries), who are facing charges of corruption, have been asked to attend the public meeting.

State Lokayukta police registered an FIR against Nirani on Saturday in connection with a case of land denotification.

The decision to invite the tainted ministers comes in the face of State BJP president K S Eshwarappa’s remark that Advani will not be left embarrassed at the Bangalore rally.

Advani has been openly critical of corruption in the party-run government in Karnataka, and is on the record as saying that “small mistakes” are embarrassing the party leadership and that he had cautioned Yeddyurappa on the issue.

The party had decided to keep tainted ministers away from the rally, given the anti-corruption tone of the nation-wide yatra. However, it reversed its position, anxious that the party may be vertically divided between Yeddyurappa loyalists and those standing by the state leadership.

Speculation was rife that Lingayat legislators loyal to Yeddyurappa could boycott the yatra if his supporters were kept away, leaving the party little choice but to issue invitations to all cabinet ministers.

The party has issued special passes to all the ministers , trying its best to put a united front and sending the message to the opposition that it is united.

But ministers from Udupi, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada districts have been exempted from attending the meeting, as they will be busy making arrangements for Advani’s yatra in their districts on October 31 and November 1.

Many MLAs who have openly identified with Yeddyurappa may yet keep away from the programme as they will be attending the funeral of a pontiff of Srisaila Mutt in Davangere city. Ministers Renukacharya and C M Udasi will be attending the last rites.

Far from uniting the party, the yatra has only exposed the divisions as Yeddyurappa supporters tried hard to get the Bangalore event cancelled in order to embarrassment to their leader, while others were keen on holding it.

The yatra is reaching the State at a time when the former chief minister and three of his cabinet colleagues languish in the Central Jail at Parappana Agrahara, just about 10 km from the yatra venue.

Apparently to avoid further embarrassment, the State unit abruptly cancelled a scheduled press conference by Advani, after his arrival in Bangalore.

The Bharatiya Janata Party patriarch is scheduled to begin the three-day Jana Chetana Yatra in Karnataka from Bangalore by addressing a public gathering at National College grounds at 5 pm.

He will reach the venue by taking part in a bike rally from HAL airport here. The yatra is scheduled to pass through Mangalore, Udupi and Kumta on October 31 and November 1.

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