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Dissent escalates in K’taka BJP against BSY after cabinet reshuffle

Bengaluru: Hours after he shuffled his cabinet to allocate portfolios to newly inducted ministers, Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa faced a backlash on Thursday from both the old guard and the new entrants, leaving the 77-year-old seemingly isolated
By Sharan Poovanna
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 12:11 AM IST

Bengaluru: Hours after he shuffled his cabinet to allocate portfolios to newly inducted ministers, Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa faced a backlash on Thursday from both the old guard and the new entrants, leaving the 77-year-old seemingly isolated.

The new ministers as well as those who were divested of key portfolios hit back at the chief minister. The CM inducted seven ministers into his cabinet on January 13.

At least three ministers--N.Nagaraju, K.Gopalaiah and K.C.Narayana Gowda--met at health minister K.Sudhakar’s residence and later called on Yediyurappa to express their anger at the distribution of portfolios.

“There isn’t much I can do in the excise department and had asked for a portfolio which is more development -oriented. I have conveyed this to the CM,” Nagaraju said.

Gopalaiah, who was stripped of the food, civil supplies and consumer affairs ministry, sought to know what he had done to deserve such treatment.

Yediyurappa, revenue minister R.Ashok and home minister Basavaraj Bommai, among others, swung into damage control mode .

“There is no difference of opinion among the new ministers,” Yediyurappa claimed, flanked by Ashok and Bommai, who helped him to calm the dissidents, at least temporarily.

Many of the ministers unhappy with the changes did not attend a cabinet meeting on Thursday, people familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.

Sudhakar, who fought hard to wrest control of the medical education department from B.Sriramulu at the peak of the pandemic, and succeeded, was stripped of the portfolio in the reshuffle.

With no backing from the central leadership of the Bharatiua Janata Party (BJP), Yediyurappa now finds himself confronting a burst of dissidence that has the potential to end another term of the Lingayat leader in the chief minister’s office well ahead of the end of his tenure.

Even J.C.Madhuswamy, a key member of Yediyurappa’s inner circle, expressed his unhappiness at being divested of the minor irrigation, law and parliamentary affairs portfolios.

“We will wait till the current crisis to play out and then put in motion our plans to be heard by the party,” said one BJP legislator, requesting not to be named.

The lack of action against Basanagouda Patil (Yatnal) for open rebellion against the chief minister was an indication of Yediyurappa’s souring relations with the central leadership of the BJP, analysts said.

“This is a repeat of what happened from 2008-13 in Karnataka. Corruption is increasing and in the due course, all these irregularities will be exposed. There is no money for relief measures, but the government is busy with its internal bickering. All this will help the Congress in the future,” said Ramalinga Reddy, working president of the Karnataka unit of the Congress party.

The analysts said central leadership of the BJP seems to have left it to Yediyurappa to deal with the problem.

“If the high command wants to control dissent, they can, but they have left it at Yediyurappa’s doorstep, stating that you brought them, so you control them. Basically he has been left to fend for himself,” said A.Narayana, political analyst and faculty at Azim Premji University.

At the core of the chaos are members of the Congress and the JD(S), whom Yediyurappa convinced to resign, a move that brought down the alliance government of the two parties in the state. In all, 17 members resigned from the legislature. In the subsequent by-election, 14 of them contested , 11 won, and sought their promised rewards, a ministerial berth. The CM’s unsuccessful attempt to meet heir demand has left both the defectors and the party’s old loyalists unhappy.

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