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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Karnataka CM Yediyurappa postpones Ballari bifurcation decision after threats from within party

Karnataka CM Yediyurappa decided to maintain the status quo on the proposal to bifurcate Ballari till December 5 bypolls for 15 assembly seats in the state after hearing out the elected representatives from the district on Wednesday.

assembly-elections Updated: Oct 03, 2019 11:03 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Yediyurappa faced opposition from the youngest Ballari brother Somashekhar Reddy on the plea to bifurcate Ballary into two districts
Yediyurappa faced opposition from the youngest Ballari brother Somashekhar Reddy on the plea to bifurcate Ballary into two districts(ANI Photo/Representative)
         

Ballari district once again become a thorn in Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s side forcing him to postpone decision on plea to bifurcate the district after leaders within his own party threatened to rebel.

Yediyurappa decided to maintain the status quo till December 5 bypolls on 15 assembly seats in the state after hearing out the elected representatives from the district on Wednesday. The BJP is aiming to win at least seven of these seats to retain its majority in the assembly, said a BJP leader.

Former Congress MLA B Anand Singh, who was elected from the Vijayanagar assembly constituency in 2018 and was later disqualified along with 16 other rebels this year had petitioned to carve out two districts of Ballari and Vijayanagara from the former.

Yediyurappa had said Singh will likely contest on BJP ticket if the SC rules favourably in the disqualifications case. A former close aide of the Reddy brothers of Ballari, Singh’s bifurcation petition was seen as his reelection strategy.

Wednesday’s meeting was called in the backdrop of the youngest of the three brothers and Ballari city MLA Somashekhar Reddy’s warning that the district would “burn” if Yediyurappa chose to divide it. A Ballari bandh was also organised on Tuesday in protest.

“We told the chief minister that such decisions cannot be taken in haste and to benefit any one person,” Somashekhar Reddy said after the meeting and added that Yediyurappa was told that he could change the name of the district to Vijayanagara if he wanted.

State health minister B Sreeramulu, another close Reddy aide, said the meeting was held in a cordial environment and the chief minister decided to postpone the meeting after taking “all the opinions”.

However, Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP Nazeer Ahmed said the atmosphere was far from cordial. “As soon as the meeting began, I asked the chief minister how he could have invited Anand Singh, who has been disqualified,” he said. “There was palpable tension between Somashekhar Reddy and the chief minister,” he added.

“It appeared to everybody present there that the whole proposal was meant to help one person in the bypolls,” Ahmed said. “We told him that a district could not be bifurcated under such flimsy grounds. There are Constitutional provisions that say meetings of gram sabhas have to be called before such a decision is even thought of,” he said.

A close Yediyurappa aide said the chief minister had involved himself in an unnecessary matter at a time when he was under fire from several quarters in the state.

Yediyurappa’s previous government during 2008 and 2011 was destabilised by senior Reddy brother’s rebellion. Although no longer in active politics, Janardhan Reddy remains influential. His close aide Sreeramulu is also in the state Cabinet.

The Congress had won six of the nine assembly seats in Ballari district in 2018, although the BJP managed to win the Lok Sabha seat.

A senior BJP leader said that there was no need to fear the Ballari Reddy’s anymore. “Sure, they are MLAs, but their powers have been cut and they are like any other MLAs in the party,” he said.

First Published: Oct 03, 2019 01:26 IST

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