Yeddyurappa's men keep mum

Yeddyurappa's men keep mum

Supporters of the beleaguered B S Yeddyurappa seem to be tongue-tied in the wake of the Supreme Court ordering a CBI probe against him on Friday.

brave face: Former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa addresses the media at his Race Course Road residence in Bangalore along with his supporters Jagadish Shettar, Umesh Katti, Somanna and Raju Gowda, on Friday. dh PhotoThough most of the loyalists visited the former chief minister in Bangalore, they refused comments on the apex court order.

The court order, party sources believe, has not only spoilt Yeddyurappa’s chances of becoming the chief minister again — at least for the time being — but has also substantially cut down his bargaining power to protect the interests of his loyalists.

Be it the expansion of the Cabinet, the reshuffling of portfolios, or issuing party tickets for the next Assembly elections, Yeddyurappa is no longer in a position to do the hard bargaining with the party.

In the last two days, nearly 34 MLAs, who are in the Yeddyurappa camp, demanded a BJP legislature party meeting. When the party came to power, nearly 70 of the 121 BJP MLAs were said to be on Yeddyurappa’s side.

A majority of the MLAs who stood with him included those belonging to the Lingayat community, migrants from other parties and those who either indulged in anti-party activities, or are facing serious charges, including corruption and rape. And Yeddyurappa had been rewarding his loyalists by getting them positions both in the government and the party.

The BJP sources said Yeddyurappa’s support base among the party legislators began dwindling from the day the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) recommended a CBI probe. Nearly half the number of legislators who had identified with are said to have become neutral, and are no longer in touch with their leader.  They are weighing all options before taking a stand.

Some of the party legislators, who have little hope of getting the party ticket to contest the next Assembly election, may eventually quit the party, it is said. However, these MLAs want to continue in the ruling party as along as the government survives so that they can make preparations for the State poll. Whether they would be ‘entertained’ by other parties is different question.

The Supreme Court order has come at a time when bickerings between the Yeddyurappa and the Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda-Eshwarappa factions are out in the open. The latter has complained against six senior ministers, who are Yeddyurappa’s men, for alleged anti-party activities and urged the high command to drop them from the ministry in the interest of the party, while the former has been demanding the ouster of Gowda.

Even the Cabinet ministers, against whom Gowda has recommended action, seem to have mellowed down after the Supreme Court order. Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani downplayed the letter issue and said there was no distrust between some ministers and the chief minister. “It is all media creation,” he argued.

He said the chief minister was elected by the MLAs, and he was the leader of the legislature party. The question of distrust does not arise, he added.

Shobha in Haridwar

Minister Shobha Karandlaje, a close confidante of Yeddyurappa, was in Haridwar on Friday. MLC Bharati Shetty, another staunch supporter of the former chief minister, was accompanying her. Shetty refused to comments on the development.

Sources said the party, on its part, was unlikely to take any major decision like dropping his loyalists from the Cabinet that would upset the Lingayat strongman. Most of Yeddyurappa’s loyalists in Gowda’s Cabinet belong to the Lingayat community.

With the next Assembly elections fast nearing, the party too cannot afford to antagonise the community whose support propelled the party to power in 2008, sources said.

What they say...

“I cannot react before I read the full text of the order. There were similar cases before the High Court and they have been struck down. I feel confident that this case too will go the same way after the investigation. This order bears no political implications.”

D V Sadananda Gowda,
Chief Minister

“Yeddyurappa is only an accused and not proven guilty by the CBI. It pains me that a leader who toiled for the welfare of farmers for more than three decades will have to face a CBI probe. I am confident that he will come clean. There will be no political fallout due to today’s development.”

K S Eshwarappa,
BJP State President

“This verdict was expected. The Congress and others have fought for the CBI inquiry both inside and outside the House. This is a victory for the Congress.”

Congress leader

“We will fully co-operate with the CBI during the investigation.  Yeddyurappa has faced such a situation before and he will emerge victorious. There is no need to link the probe with politics. Our political battle will continue.”

B Y Raghavendra,
MP and son of Yeddyurappa

“The Court verdict has brought justice to the people of Karnataka. A lot of effort has been put into this by all of us, especially by Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court advocate). This is a non political fight against illegal mining. The fight will soon reach its logical conclusion and all those involved regardless of the party will have to bear the consequences. The losses caused to the exchequer has to be recovered.”

S R Hiremath,
Samaj Parivarthana Samuda­y­a

“This is a good lesson for the BJP. The JD(S) welcomes the Supreme Court order. It was the JD(S) which first exposed the misdeeds of Yeddyurappa. The party’s allegation that the BJP government led by Yeddyurappa looted the mineral wealth has been proved correct by the SC order.”

H D Kumaraswamy,
JD(S) State President

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