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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Under fire for Delhi trip as Kartanaka reels under flood, Yediyurappa rushes back

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa had come under fire from the opposition for his trip to Delhi at a time when many parts of the state were flooded.

bengaluru Updated: Aug 07, 2019 19:14 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa leaves after paying his last respects to former Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj at her residence at in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa leaves after paying his last respects to former Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj at her residence at in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Under fire from the opposition for flying to Delhi to finalise the expansion of his cabinet even as parts of Karnataka reeled under flood, chief minister BS Yediyurappa cut short his visit by a day and returned on Wednesday after he was unable to get an audience with BJP president and Union home minister Amit Shah.

Immediately on arrival in the state, Yediyurappa left to visit Belagavi district, which has been one of the worst hit by heavy rain.

Though Yediyurappa met union ministers and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he was unable to meet Shah, even as pressure mounted on him from the opposition Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) which have panned his government as a one-man show.

Yediyurappa took oath of office on July 26 and won the floor test last week. However, since then, his hurry in forming the government has found little resonance among the central leadership.

Speaking to HT, BJP MLA Basavaraj Bommai, who was part of the delegation that visited the national capital, said the team thought it prudent to return in light of the dire situation in many parts of the state. “We were supposed to meet the party president on Wednesday, but that was not possible because of the demise of Sushma Swaraj,” he said.

“Hence, we decided to return to Karnataka and assess the flood situation,” Bommai said, adding, “We are planning to come back to the Delhi in about three days to hold talks with the central leadership on the portfolio allocation”.

Indeed, Yediyurappa’s decision to travel could not have come at a worse time. On Monday when he left for the national capital, Shah had moved the resolution to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution. Some local leaders said it was apparent at that time that the national leadership would have more pressing priorities than the expansion of Yediyurappa’s cabinet.

About 15 of the 30 districts in Karnataka, especially those in the northern region that border Maharashtra have witnessed very high rainfall over the past week and there has been flooding at many locations in that region because of the huge quantity of water released by Maharashtra into the Krishna river basin.

Additionally, the India Meteorological Department has issued a red alert across the southern, hill and coastal districts of the state, warning of extremely heavy rainfall over the next five days.

As there is no council of ministers, the brunt of the relief operations had fallen on the shoulders of the bureaucracy in the state. This was compounded because of Yediyurappa’s decision to leave for the national capital. A senior official of the state revenue department said on the condition of anonymity, “everything is being monitored by the chief secretary at the moment”.

The cabinet expansion would have also entailed the naming of district in-charge ministers, who act as a bridge between the administration and the executive.

A senior BJP leader from the state, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Yediyurappa’s decision was taken in haste and had the potential of backfiring on the party in the state.

“He was asked to wait by the central leadership and yet he chose to rush to New Delhi to finalise the cabinet list. This was completely avoidable,” the MLA said.

“Any other person would have sensed that once the central government moved the resolution on Article 370, there would be little chance of discussions on this matter,” he added.

“@BSYBJP While the state is reeling under severe floods, you’ve not formed the cabinet yet, & on a selfish trip to Delhi. Do you get sadistic pleasure by seeing lakhs of people in distress? Is this why you toppled a perfectly functioning govt? To see people suffer? Shame on you!” the JD(S) tweeted on Wednesday.

Former state minister Krishna Byregowda, too, hit out at Yediyurappa.

“Terrible floods in many parts of Karnataka. And CM is away politicking in Delhi. No minister even to attend to flood problems. 12 days since new Govt, BJP still hasn’t given Karnataka a Cabinet. #KarnatakaFloods,” he tweeted.

First Published: Aug 07, 2019 19:12 IST

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