K'taka BJP MLAs’ lunch meet spooks political circles

Karnataka BJP MLAs’ lunch meet spooks political circles

The lunch meeting came at a time when the BS Yediyurappa administration is busy battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and is headed towards completing one year in office. (Credit: DH Photo)

A meeting of BJP legislators at senior BJP leader Umesh Katti’s residence on Thursday to eat North Karnataka’s staple ‘rotti oota’ has triggered speculation on dissidence and factionalism within the saffron party, creating ripples in the political circles. 

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The lunch meeting came at a time when the BS Yediyurappa administration is busy battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and is headed towards completing one year in office. 

Katti, an 8-time MLA who hosted the lunch at his residence, has been sulking for not being made a minister. However, he dismissed talk of disgruntlement or that attempts are being made to unseat the aging Yediyurappa.  

The lunch meeting was also attended by senior MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, Shivaraj Patil, Raju Gowda (Narasimha Nayak), Siddu Savadi and over a dozen others from the North Karnataka region. 

While Yatnal said that the meeting was not against leadership or to hatch a conspiracy, he did make it clear that all is not well with him and Yediyurappa. 

Meanwhile, the only response from Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa was a clarification. “It is being said that I have convened an emergency meeting with some party MLAs. This is far from the truth. I haven’t convened any other meeting,” Yediyurappa said in a tweet. 

According to Katti, this was the second lunch with MLAs at his residence in a span of two weeks. The meeting was seen as an attempt to mount pressure on Yediyurappa to induct Katti into the Cabinet, and pick his brother Ramesh for the Rajya Sabha seat from Karnataka that falls vacant this year. 

"We are responsible MLAs and I believe such politics is not right during the corona pandemic," Katti said, denying any rebellion.

Yatnal, who has been vocal about his disgruntlement, said there were things he cannot discuss in public. “Are we disgruntled or not is something we will discuss in the party’s platform,” Yatnal, a former Union minister, told reporters. “But we North Karnataka people have the habit of eating rotti. It had been a long time since we got together for rotti oota, so we went to Katti’s house where the meals were arranged. We also ate Ratnagiri mangoes and chatted casually,” he said.

“We won’t topple or trouble the government,” Yatnal said, pointing out that the BJP was “a party of discipline” and the central leadership was “very strong.” All party MLAs want the Yediyurappa government to do well and be transparent, he said. 

But his own equation with Yediyurappa seems to have deteriorated. “Yediyurappa had called me for a meeting Saturday last, but I didn’t go,” he said. “I will never go to the CM again. Why should I, when my constituency works won’t get done? He’s busy with corona, so I let him be.” 

He also vowed that he will not become a minister in the Yediyurappa Cabinet. “I’ve never lobbied for a ministerial berth. I won’t be a minister in the Yediyurappa government; this is my self-declaration. I’m not so incapable that I’d beg for it.” 

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