The Bharatiya Janata Party’s bid to save its first government in southern India got murkier on Sunday even though the party’s central leaders rejected the Karnataka dissidents’ demand to replace Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
The dissidents, led by the mine-owning Reddy brothers – state ministers Janardhana and Karunakara – have been camping in Delhi over the past few days to lobby for Yeddyurappa’s removal.
The rebels have claimed support of 60 of the 117 BJP MLAs while Yeddyurappa’s men say they number not more than 40.
The dissidents have told the central leaders that the chief minister’s style of functioning is “autocratic’ and he governs through a “coterie” led by Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Shobha Karandalaje.
As BJP’s central leaders heard those opposing and supporting Yeddyurappa here on Sunday, both sides talked tough, and a silent blame game appeared to be in the offing with the Rajnath Singh camp accusing the L.K. Advani loyalists of “messing it up”.
Yeddyurappa and his supporters did not hide their unhappiness that the dissidents, particularly the Reddy brothers, were asked to come to Delhi to meet central BJP leaders when the issue could have been sorted out in Bangalore itself.
Some of them did not hesitate to blame Ananth Kumar, BJP general secretary, a long-standing rival of Yeddyurappa. They accused him of encouraging the Reddy brothers to strike at Yeddyurappa.
Ananth Kumar on Sunday played host to Karnataka Speaker Jagdish Shettar who has emerged as the dissidents’ choice as chief minister. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who was in Bangalore for three days to resolve the crisis, went to Kumar’s house to meet Shettar.
Yeddyurappa on Sunday dropped his “soft approach” to accuse the dissidents of trying to destabilise his government when the state was grappling with the aftermath of the state’s worst-ever flood.
A day after indicating his willingness to patch up with the rebels, Yedyurappa said in Bangalore that “some politicians” were “fighting for the chair”.