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After cabinet expansion, dissent brews in Karnataka BJP

Bengaluru: Troubles are mounting for Karnataka chief minister B
By Sharan Poovanna
UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 12:13 AM IST

Bengaluru: Troubles are mounting for Karnataka chief minister B.S.Yediyurappa after his attempt to quell dissent within the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by expanding the cabinet only widened the fissures within the two-year-old government.

Basanagouda Ramanagouda Patil (Yatnal), the legislator from Bijapur City, on Wednesday targeted Yediyurappa by calling for an end to family-based politics in the BJP.

“Our Prime Minister’s dreams are development, end of dynasty politics, corruption-free government. I will request our national president that only one person from a household should be given power. It cannot be that there is an MP, MLC, MLA, board heads and even people in-charge of party affairs from only one family,” Yatnal said in Bengaluru.

The renewed opposition to Yediyurappa comes at a time when there is a growing clamour by dissidents for the removal of the 77-year old who has been accused of trying to placate his family and staunch loyalists; The troubles are only likely to increase as the CM turns a year older in February; there is a tacit rule in the BJP that those above 75 years of age should not hold any administrative posts.

A cabinet expansion last week triggered open criticism of the CM by those who missed out on ministerial berths.

Yediyurappa has also been fighting charges of neglecting Kannada for Hindi. He faces the task of finding ways to make up for shortfall in revenue from the Centre ahead of the state budget in March.

So deep is the divide within the state BJP that Yediyurappa now faces opposition not just from his earlier detractors but those who were once seen to be close to the Lingayat leader.

M.P.Renukacharya, the legislator from Honnali, on Wednesday met with senior BJP leaders including Prakash Javedekar and Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi to express his concern on being overlooked for a cabinet post.

“All the meetings went well,” Renukacharya said, refusing to disclose more details of the talks he had with the central leaders.

“Core BJP MLAs are unhappy and are now planning to approach the top leadership of the organisation and the Centre to express their concerns,” said a three-time legislator of the BJP, requesting not to be named.

Incidentally, his first challenge after entering office for a record fourth term in July 2019 was also related to his cabinet as he struggled to get his choice of names approved by the BJP’s central leadership, forcing him to work alone for nearly three weeks.

The pressure has forced Yediyurappa to hold out assurances and promises to disgruntled elements within his party of a cabinet expansion to accommodate those left out of his ministerial council. Heavy lobbying continues for portfolios like heavy industry, energy, rural development, panchayat raj and the all important Bengaluru in-charge ministries, people aware of the developments say.

Yediyurappa scrambled between meetings on Wednesday to discuss portfolio allocations. So busy is he with the administration and cabinet reshuffle that the chief minister could not even savour the fact that Karnataka had been named the most innovative state in the country by NITI Aayog.

Political analysts say that as the government enters the third year, how the BJP shapes its strategy in the state will become more clear.

“The government is entering the third year of existence that will leave just two years before the next elections. Of this one year will be entirely dedicated towards elections and the BJP will have to decide if they want to keep Yediyurappa or replace him right now,”said A.Narayana, a political analyst and faculty at the Azim Premji University, said.

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