Karnataka BJP crisis defies solution, in-fighting continues

Karnataka BJP crisis defies solution, in-fighting continues


Yeddyurappa seemed to have lost hopes of a compromise in the wake of no-holds barred attack against him by Tourism Minister G. Janaradhana Reddy, Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy, and their loyalist Health Minister B. Sriramulu.

The Reddys are brothers and also rich mine owners.
After another round of meeting with Jaitley, who rushed here Wednesday for patch-up bid, Yeddyurappa Thursday said he had asked the central leadership to take "stern action" against the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu.

"I will not be cowed down by them," the chief minister, who continued to shunt out officials said to be close to the three ministers, told reporters.

Yeddyurappa's move to go public with his demand came amid reports that Janardhana Reddy has taken a group of supporting legislators to Hyderabad and was planning to take another group to Goa to "protect" them from being won over by the chief minister's camp.
Of the 117 BJP legislators, around 30 are said to be supporting the Reddy brothers, of whom Janardhana is the elder.

Continuing their defiance of the chief minister, the Reddy brothers also organised 'bhumi puja' (ground breaking ceremony) to build houses for the flood victims in north Karnataka.
On Wednesday they launched the programme in Bellary to build 50,000 houses from the money they and other mine owners have raised. They have rejected pleas of Yeddyurappa to make the programme a collective government effort and not their own.

At Wednesday's function, Janardhana Reddy ridiculed Yeddyurappa's claim to have raised Rs.1,000 crore through his 'padayatra' (walk) in Bangalore for relief and rehabilitation of people affected by floods that devastated vast areas in north Karnataka between Sep 30 and Oct 2.
Reacting to the strong attack on him Wednesday by Janardhana Reddy and his supporters, Yeddyurappa said, "They have criticised me at a function held in Siruguppa taluk (Bellary district) where they launched their own housing programme for flood-affected victims. I am not scared of these things."
Jaitley's efforts Wednesday to persuade the Reddy brothers to sort out their differences with Yeddyurappa did not yield positive results.

He met Karunakara Reddy and Sriramulu while Janardhana Reddy stayed back in their iron ore-rich home district of Bellary, about 400 km from here.

"I will let you know our decision on Nov 2," Karunakara Reddy said.
The Reddy brothers have rebelled against Yeddyurappa accusing him of dictatorial functioning, not giving them a free hand to run their ministries, not consulting them on party affairs and denying a final say in posting of officials in their ministries and in areas where they wield influence.

They are also said to be upset that Yeddyurappa was giving prominence to his favourite ministers, particularly the lone woman minister Shobha Karandlaje, who holds panchayati raj portfolio.
The Reddy brothers are cut up at lack of decisive role in the administration and party matters as they are believed to have funded the operation to secure majority for the BJP after the May 2008 assembly polls and make Yeddyurappa the first BJP chief minister in Karnataka and south India.
The BJP won 110 of the 224 elected seats in the 225-member assembly but managed to form the government with the help of six Independents. The Reddy brothers claim they won over the Independents, five of whom were made ministers.

Later, to reduce the dependence on the Independents, the party launched "Operation Lotus" (Lotus is BJP's election symbol) to woo legislators from the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular.
More than half a dozen legislators from these parties switched loyalties and won as BJP contestants in by-polls, giving the party the majority on its own with 117 members.
This is the second time that differences between the Reddy brothers and Yeddyurappa have come into the open since he formed the government 17 months back.
Early this year too, Jaitley had rush to Bangalore to calm down the Reddy brothers and a few other ministers upset with Yeddyurappa's functioning.

This time both camps appear to be in no mood for compromise.
Jaitley's task has become complicated as those opposed to Yeddyurappa are propping assembly speaker and prominent party personality Jagadish Shettar as an alternative leader.
Shettar has been unhappy with Yeddyurappa as he was denied a cabinet berth and made a speaker. Shettar believes that Yeddyurappa wanted to cut him politically by depriving him a political post.
Like Yeddyurappa, Shettar belongs to the politically influential Lingayat community, in which the BJP has large support base.

Shettar is also from north Karnataka, again an area where the BJP enjoys strong support.

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