BJP wields stick, expels minister Renukacharya

Outburst against former CM Sadananda Gowda cost him dear
Last Updated 26 March 2013, 20:22 IST

Excise Minister M P Renukacharya, a close associate of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, was expelled from the primary membership of the BJP for six years on Tuesday night.

The drastic action came in the wake of Renukacharya’s outburst against former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda. In his home constituency Honnali, Renukacharya, in an interaction with television channels on Tuesday afternoon, had branded Gowda  the most corrupt.

Renukacharya had alleged that Gowda had taken a huge sum of money from him during the by-election to Udupi-Chickmagalur parliamentary constituency in 2012. He had said he was not bothered whether the BJP would field him as candidate from Honnali in Davangere district.

Renukacharya also termed other senior BJP leaders like party national general secretary Ananth Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa, State party president Pralhad Joshi as corrupt.

He, however, did not provide any details and claimed that he had evidence to prove his allegations.

Taking cognizance of his allegations, which embarrassed the party when it is trying to salvage its image, party State president Pralhad Joshi late in the evening issued the expulsion order. In his three line note addressed to Renukacharya, Joshi stated, “You have spoken lightly of the state leader in television channels. Your conduct amounts to violation of party discipline. You have been expelled from the primary membership for six years with immediate effect.”

In the recent times, the BJP had not taken such stringent and swift action against those who bad mouthed the party or its leaders in public. Joshi’s predecessor K S Eshwarappa had stated that if had initiated disciplinary action, then the party would not have survived in power. But the party now has no such fear because the elections have already been declared.

Renukacharya, who was sidelined in the ULB elections, was at logger heads Sadananda Gowda. In his capacity as the chief minister, Gowda had directed the excise commissioner to investigate a corruption complaint against Renukacharya during the Udupi-Chikmagalur by-elections to the Lok Sabha. The irked Renukacharya had attacked Gowda.

In the ULB elections, the party had bypassed him while distributing B forms to the candidates. Still, the BJP performed well in Honnali. He was feeling insecure once the party began speaking in terms of ‘cleansing’ the party.

He also announced that he will soon be quitting the BJP and join the KJP.

With RSS leaders gradually taking control of BJP affairs in the State, many fence-sitters in the party as well as Yeddyurappa loyalists, including some ministers, are planning to shift to the Karnataka Janatha Party (KJP).

Ministers Murugesh Nirani, and V Somanna are likely to join the KJP. Most of these leaders are unlikely to get BJP tickets to contest the Assembly polls, said KJP leaders.

Nirani is planning to organise a public rally in Jamakhandi, Bagalkot district, on March 29 where he may formally join the KJP, while others have decided to wait till March-end, when the Congress is likely to release the first list. They will take a final decision depending on Congress candidates, sources said. Both Nirani and Renukacharya grew up in the BJP but they are considered as loyalists of Yeddyurappa.

It is said that the BJP may not give party ticket to Nirani for the Jamakhandi constituency, where Srikanth Kulkarni is the sitting MLA. Nirani, MLA from Bilagi in Bijapur, now wants to contest from the Lingayat stronghold Jamakhandi.

Somanna’s dilemma

Somanna, who failed to get an assurance from the Congress on getting ticket for Govindrajnagar constituency in Bangalore, is planning to contest either from Hanur or Gundulpet constituencies in Chamarajnagar district as the KJP candidate.

Somanna, who is a known party-hopper, has not been unhappy over his decision to join the BJP after he quit as the Congress MLA from Govindarajanagar in 2009 to join the BJP. Now, he is left without any constituency as Priya Krishna, the sitting Congress MLA from Govindrajnagar, has developed a strong base in the constituency.

As the district incharge minister, Somanna has been nurturing Chamarajanagar for some time now. The district has a seizable number of voters from his Lingayat community. He had taken up several developmental projects in the backward district.

However, ministers Umesh Katti and Basavaraj Bommai are still undecided about their plans. KJP leaders are claiming that some five to six BJP legislators will be joining their party soon. If their claims come true, then it will strengthen the KJP.

These leaders, the sources said, also believe that the Congress may require the support of a regional party to form the government after the polls and hence it will be better to be in the KJP than continuing in the BJP.

(Published 26 March 2013, 20:17 IST)

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