Rift wide open in State BJP as legislators drift away

The first BJP legislature party (BJPLP) meeting chaired by Jagadish Shettar as chief minister on Thursday witnessed more than 50 per cent of the legislators staying away, indicating the deep fissures and indiscipline in the party.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 9 am at Vidhana Soudha to discuss Presidential elections and to finalise strategies to counter the Opposition during the legislature session.

However, Shettar - who arrived with his deputy R Ashoka at 9.30 am - was taken aback to find  only ministers Suresh Kumar, Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri and a handful of legislators at the Conference Hall, the venue of the meeting.

Unhappy

Karunakara Reddy and his band of 15 disgruntled legislators, who are sour over not being given ministerial berths, several ministers including B N Bacche Gowda, Anand Asnotikar (who are unhappy that they had not been given plum portfolios), did not attend the meeting. 

BJP legislators from the coastal districts who had backed Sadananda Gowda during the leadership tussle also stayed away from the meeting. 

Municipal Administration Minister Balachandra Jarkiholi was holding his own meeting with his supporter legislators at a private hotel when the BJPLP meeting was on. 

Most of the MLAs were in Bangalore to vote in the Presidential elections, but did not attend the BJPLP meeting. 

The official figure given by the BJP is that 66 of the 119 party MLAs attended, but those privy to the BJPLP meeting said the count was much less. 

By the end of the day, all the 119 BJP MLAs had exercised their franchise in the Presidential polls. 

DVS hosts dinner

D V Sadananda Gowda, who had kept low for the last few days after demitting office, did some muscle flexing by hosting a dinner for a select group of legislators and ministers, at the government bungalow Anugraha. Some MLAs, who had earlier identified themselves with Yeddyurappa, including Belur Gopalakrishna, Manappa Vajjal, Abhay Patil, Doddanagouda Patil, attended the dinner - an indication of the shift in loyalties. 

Gowda, who is aiming for the State party president’s post, is trying his best to consolidate his position in the party. Also, MLAs who are aggrieved over not getting ministerial berths are also rallying behind Gowda. The ministers who made it to the dinner are - B N Bacche Gowda, Balachandra Jarkiholi, Varthur Prakash, Govind Karjol, S A Ravindranath, Appachu Ranjan and Anand Asnotikar. It is said nearly 30 legislators were present. 

Sources close to Yeddyurappa said the Lingayat leader was quite alarmed by the development and had even suggested that Shettar take up reallocation of portfolios.

Shettar is likely to reshuffle the portfolios to quell the dissidence in the government, soon after the conclusion of the legislature session, sources said. MLAs from the coastal districts - Yogish Bhat, Raghupathy Bhat, Mallika Prasad and Lalji Mendon attended Gowda’s dinner. When Gowda was hosting the dinner, Shettar was holding a meeting with his deputies K S Eshwarappa and R Ashoka at Kaveri, the government bungalow adjacent to Anugraha. 

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