BJP punishes Sriramulu flock

2 MPs, 3 MLAs and an MLC suspended
Last Updated 25 November 2011, 20:31 IST

The party which had earlier in the day served notices to MLAs Somashekara Reddy, B Nagendra, H T Suresh Babu and MLC Mruthyunjaya Jinaga, late at night decided to suspend them.  The State leadership had written to Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj seeking permission to suspend MPs J Shantha (Bellary) and Sanna Fakirappa (Raichur).

On recommendation by State BJP president K S Eshwarappa, Swaraj wrote to party patriarch L K Advani advising him to suspend the MPs. “Pursuant to the letter, both these MPs should be suspended immediately, and show cause notices be issued to them,” Sushma indicated to Advani.

On Advani’s ‘I agree’, the party immediately suspended Shantha and Fakirappa. Speaking to Deccan Herald, Eshwarappa said the party had not bothered to seek the party central leadership’s permission to suspend the legislators.

“In response to the show cause notices issued to the legislators, we received a statement from them stating that they would continue to support Sriramulu. We immediately decided to suspend them,” he said.

Asked if the party would dismiss/expel the six members, Eshwarappa said, “Why not? We will keep them with the party as long as it is required. Once we decide that there is no need for them anymore, they will be dismissed from the party. It is not numbers that is important here. They lacked the discipline. This would have adversely impacted the party at the national level,” he added. The belated action of the BJP comes when all the four legislators and two MPs have been campaigning for Sriramulu from November 12 - the day Sriramulu filed his nomination papers.

The BJP which has been trying to distance itself from the Reddy brothers of Bellary, found an opportunity in the rebellion of the legislators. It has sent a clear message that it has snapped its ties with former minister Janardhana Reddy, who is presently cooling his heels in the Chanchalaguda jail. His brother Karunakar Reddy, who is the Revenue minister in the State cabinet is the only person to have completely stayed away from the campaigning activities. The minister has not been seen in the district ever since the elections were announced. Incidentally, Somashekar Reddy is Chairman, Karnataka Milk Federation.

The party, however, is unlikely to take the case to its logical end, as it finds itself in a catch-22 situation. It is apparent that it does want to upset its apple cart in the Assembly where it has 121 members, not entirely a safe margin.  In the past, party had suspended 10 MLAs in 2002 for defying party whip and cross voting for liquor baron Vijay Mallya. In 2006, it suspended two legislators - H Halappa and Belur Gopalkrishna - for identifying themselves with former chief minister S Bangarappa, who had then joined the Samajwadi Party.

Somashekhara Reddy said he was not afraid of any action. “Sriramulu is like my brother and there is no question of deserting him.” Reddy told reporters in Bellary on Friday. He said he will give a “befitting reply” to the notice.

(Published 25 November 2011, 20:31 IST)

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