Bellary rebels take fight to Cabinet meet

Bellary rebels take fight to Cabinet meet

Janardhana Reddy, Asnotikar and Sriramulu defy CM, walk out

Bellary rebels take fight to Cabinet meet

Three of Yeddyurappa’s ministerial colleagues from Bellary abruptly walked out of Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, the first that the chief minister presided after the bitter infighting was brought to an end by the party’s central leadership recently.

While smiling faces in both Yeddyurappa and Reddy camps had sworn to work together in Karnataka’s interest, quitting the Cabinet meeting by rebel ministers Janardhana Reddy, Sriramulu and Anand Asnotikar was an obvious sign that not all is well in the post-settlement phase.

The walkout was in reaction to Yeddyurappa’s Tuesday comment that he has been unable to protect forest and mining wealth that are being looted by “some people” – a reference to the indiscriminate and alleged illegal mining activities of the Reddy rebels-in-chief.

To drive home the point, Revenue Minister Karunakara Reddy did not even attend the Cabinet meeting which was to discuss, among other issues, flood relief programmes. He was in Raichur and Gulbarga.

On his part, Transport Minister R Ashok, not seen as a Yeddyurappa baiter, announced on Wednesday that he was in favour of establishing weigh bridges to check movement of overloaded trucks. It is clearly a move to checkmate the Reddys’ unhindered mining activities.

Yeddyurappa asked all ministers to stay back for deliberations that were not listed for the meeting, indicating his willingness to work on political matters. Additionally, he wanted to discuss tour programmes which his colleagues and he will have to undertake in the flood-hit districts. All senior officials were directed to vacate the Cabinet hall.

More embarrassment

No sooner did the chief minister broach the issue of the political crisis that had embarrassed all, than Janardhana Reddy and Sriramulu walked out, followed by Asnotikar. Surprisingly, three other ministers close to the Reddys – P M Narendra Swamy, Goolihatti Shekar and Shivaraj Thangadagi – did not follow.

Slighted by the Bellary ministers’ behaviour, he is believed to have told others that such acts would create unnecessary controversies, forcing him to issue clarifications. Yeddyurappa added he was concerned about the government’s image, severely dented by the ugly confrontation and infighting.

Not just BJP leaders, the administration too appears to be divided in their loyalties.
Some officials are taking advantage of the situation within the party-government. A fortnight ago, the chief minister transferred Health Department Principal Secretary I R Perumal to head the Food and Civil Supplies Department, but he is yet to take up the new assignment.

It is understood that a disgruntled Perumal contacted Janardhana Reddy, requesting him to have him reinstated in the Health Department. Perumal is believed to have told Reddy that he would feel humiliated if the transfer order was not rescinded.

When Reddy broached the matter with Yeddyurappa, the chief minister is learnt to have stuck to his decision, saying Perumal had defied the government by refusing to take charge of the Food and Civil Supplies department. Having heard the chief minister, Reddy, sources said, asked Perumal to follow the order.

Later, the Reddys said in a release that Perumal’s transfer issue was not discussed in the Cabinet meeting. It also claimed that the Bellary ministers had to leave the Cabinet  meeting as they had to reach Bellary before dusk by helicopter.