State BJP crisis moves to Delhi

Advani, Sushma may meet leaders from warring camps to thrash out solution

State BJP crisis moves to Delhi

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley with Yeddyurappa and other ministers. Te central party leadership will now interevene to hammer out a compromise to the seemingly unending squabble that has the potential to destabilise the year-and-a-half long government.

BJP national leader Arun Jaitley’s attempts to effect a truce between the warring groups apparently came to nought as the two camps began a show of strength ahead of their respective leaders’ departure for Delhi where they are expected to meet, among others, L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj.

After making a vain attempt to patch up the differences between the Yeddyurappa and the Reddy camps and failing to convince Assembly Speaker Jagadish Shettar to see reason and meet the chief minister, Jaitley left Bangalore for Mumbai.

Before leaving, Jaitley invited Yeddyurappa, ministers Karunakara Reddy, Janardhana Reddy, B Sriramulu and Shettar to Delhi.

Though no date has been fixed for the State leaders’ Delhi meeting, a report from Delhi indicated that some of them could be in the national capital by Saturday.

No change

Speaking to reporters, Jaitley reiterated that the BJP government was performing well and that there was no likelihood of any change in leadership, an issue that has been central to the demands of the rebels led by the Reddy siblings. Jaitley, who is in charge of Karnataka BJP affairs, said the issues raised before him will be resolved within the party’s framework.

This was indication enough that a compromise will be arrived at once the central leaders intervened. Shettar, who is smelling an opportunity to succeed Yeddyurappa, is likely to be in Delhi on Saturday. His meeting with the high command leadership is scheduled for Sunday. The Reddys are expected to reach the national capital on Tuesday. The  chief minister appears to be in no hurry to make a beeline for Delhi. His itinerary for Saturday includes a visit to Kukke Subramnya temple and two meetings here. He may leave, however, for Delhi in the evening.

While Jaitley advised Yeddyurappa not to go public with the intra-party affairs, Health Minister Sriramulu met Shettar and is understood to have assured him of the support of at least 60 MLAs who were prepared to accept the Speaker as an alternative to Yeddyurappa.

When contacted, Sriramulu said 41 MLAs are backing the Reddys. While some of them were in Hyderabad, some were taken to Goa under the leadership of Minister Anand Asnotikar. Sriramulu said: “All the MLAs will assemble in Goa on Saturday. At least 67 MLAs, including five ministers, would be on our side.” Asked whether the crisis could be defused if Minister Shobha Karandlaje resigned, Sriramulu replied in the negative.

He was insistent that Yeddyurappa must go. The Reddys continued to draw more MLAs. Sriramulu, heading a batch of seven legislators, including Seema Masuti, Raju Kage, Chikkanagouda and Ministers Balachandra Jarakiholi, Shivanagouda Naik and Goolihatti Shekhar left from Bengaluru International Airport for Hyderabad, on Friday evening.

In a sharp contrast, a lunch hosted by Yeddyurappa at his residence was attended by a handful of legislators.

Shettar is said to be firm that the central leadership take into account individual opinion of MLAs before deciding the leadership issue.

But the chief minister told reporters that there is no need for a BJP legislature party meeting to prove his strength. The chief minister ruled out a Cabinet reshuffle at this juncture.

Refusing to take reporters’ questions on the political crisis, Yeddyurappa said that he had been asked by Arun Jaitley to refrain from making comments on the developments within his party. “My only aim is development and I will work towards it,” was all he was prepared to say.

However, the chief minister said he would devote more time to interact with legislators with whom he would spend at least one day a month to discuss issues of wide interest.

Shobha to go?

* Speculation was rife on Friday that Yeddyurappa might ask minister Shobha Karandlaje to resign. Her fast rise in the party and the prominence she got in the cabinet has not been to the liking of the rebels. Shobha was not seen in any of the party meetings held through the day. She also kept away from the media.

* To drop Shobha from the cabinet is one of the demands of the rebel leaders, including the Reddys.

* The CM may also transfer his Principal Secretary V P Baligar, who too has incurred the wrath of the rebels.

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