The dissidence war that has erupted again in the BJP in Karnataka has come after the flood havoc in the northern parts of the state -- and rehabilitation of hundreds of people has become a hot political issue.
Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, who has been in office for 18 months, faces serious trouble this time from dissidents who are led by two famous Reddy brothers of Bellary.
Accusing him of sloppy relief work, tourism and infrastructure minister G Janardhana Reddy, his elder brother and revenue minister G Karunakar Reddy and their close confidante B Sriramulu are bent on dethroning Yeddyurappa.
The CM has hit back by shifting key officials in their home district and ministries for “improving” relief work. So they now want to replace him with speaker Jagadish Shettar.
Shettar, who is a Lingayat like Yeddyurappa, wanted to be the CM but was pacified with the post of Speaker.
He is increasingly under pressure to give up his post and emerge as an alternative candidate to head the government in place of Yeddyurappa.
Yeddyurappa is willing to appoint Shettar in his cabinet. The buzz is he has also been offered the post of deputy chief minister.
The real reason, many BJP leaders say, is the Reddy brothers are upset by a tax levied on mine ore mined from Bellary region to fund flood relief works.
With BJP’s central observer Arun Jaitley camping in Bangalore to try and defuse the crisis, Yeddyurappa wants a go-ahead from the party’s top bosses to take action against the Reddy brothers.
But, Jaitely has asked him to calm down and is talking to the rebels too. He has ruled out a leadership change.
On Thursday, 15 of the rebel MLAs arrived in Hyderabad. On arrival from Bangalore they were lodged in a hotel near the airport. They could be joined by five more MLAs.
It is not easy to split the BJP. The Reddy brothers will have to engineer a valid split under the anti-defection law to escape disqualification. That means 80 out of the 117 MLAs have to come out. The magic figure needed to form the government is 113 in the 224-member House.