Govt walking on thin ice

The party leaders fear that even a slight nudge from either of the groups would be enough to dislodge the fragile BJP government led by Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda. The party has become more anxious after Sriramulu, a close associate of the Reddy brothers, quit the party and decided to contest the Bellary Rural Assembly bypoll as an independent candidate. Even Sriramulu has been indicted in the mining report.

Five BJP MLAs from Bellary have openly supported Sriramulu’s move, disregarding the possible action from the party. The MLAs’ decision is seen as a veiled threat from the Reddys’ camp to the BJP that they would not hesitate to resign if the party decides to discipline those who rebel.

Sriramulu reportedly enjoys the support of 10 to 12 MLAs, some of them are from the neighbouring districts of Bellary. However, two party MLAs from Bellary –– Anand Singh and M S Somalingappa –– may stand by the party.

In the present 224-member Assembly (Bellary Rural seat vacant), the ruling party’s strength is 122 (including the Speaker, the nominated member and an independent MLA supporting it) against the required 113. If 10 MLAs pull out their support, the government will be reduced to a minority. Sources say this possibility is not ruled out if Sriramulu emerges victorious in the November 30 bypoll. He may even float a regional party.

Mid-term polls

Land scam-hit Yeddyurappa, who has his eyes set on the next Assembly elections, now wants to consolidate his position.

For this, he desperately wants to head the State party, replacing the incumbent, his political rival in the party, K S Eshwarappa.

The former chief minister has already started mounting pressure on the party central leadership to achieve his end. But the high command has stopped entertaining him, especially after his alleged involvement in the land and mining scams.

Besides, the Lingayat leader has started spewing venom against his detractors ever
since he was released from jail.

The divide between the Yeddyurappa and the Ananth Kumar camps is so wide that the ministers identified with them sit in separate rows in the weekly Cabinet meetings, and stoutly defend their leaders and their interests.

Sources close to Yeddyurappa said if the Delhi leaders do not respond to his demands, he may resort to splitting the State party as a large chunk of MLAs, mostly Lingayats, support him. He may even try to woo the JD(S) and the Reddy brothers in that eventuality. It is also said he would join the JD(U), as it was once backed by the Lingayat community in North Karnataka.

According to a source close to the leader, Yeddyurappa has plans to push the party to go for early polls soon after the next State budget. His colleagues too will welcome this. Yeddyurappa would not topple the party government as long as he remains stuck in the legal tangle.

Currently, he is the de facto chief minister. Whether he is inside or outside the prison, he has been calling the shots in the government. Hence, he would not pose a threat to the government’s survival, but will continue to bargain hard to have his way in the administration, a source pointed out.

With the mid-term polls in mind, he has decided to extensively tour the State. He
will finalise his future after garnering people’s opinions, sources said.

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