Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa presents the State Budget 2021-22 in the Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru, Monday, March 8, 2021.(PTI)
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa presents the State Budget 2021-22 in the Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru, Monday, March 8, 2021.(PTI)

Rumblings grow within Karnataka BJP

While the buzz of a change in leadership has lived through several news cycles ever since BS Yediyurappa seized power in 2019, people aware of the developments said that a decision may be imminent after the second wave of the pandemic ebbs.
By Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Sharan Poovanna, Bengaluru/ New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 27, 2021 02:42 AM IST

The clamour for leadership change within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka has grown louder in recent days, people aware of the developments said, fuelling speculation about possible changes in the state for the BJP.

While the buzz of a change in leadership has lived through several news cycles ever since BS Yediyurappa seized power in 2019, people aware of the developments said that a decision may be imminent after the second wave of the pandemic ebbs.

“We are about 35-40 legislators who are hardcore party workers and have asked for things to be set right,” said a three-time BJP MLA on condition of anonymity.

He said that the situation in Karnataka is “shaky” but added that “there was no guarantee” that the central leaders would consult the state legislators over any changes. At least two legislators from Karnataka were in Delhi on Tuesday to meet with the central leadership, people aware of the developments said. One of the legislators, requesting not to be identified, confirmed having gone to Delhi but refrained from divulging more about his visit. “They have had a word with state unit in-charge Arun Singh. But so far, they have not been given time to meet the party president,” a senior party functionary said.

Yediyurappa’s relationship with BJP’s central leadership has soured over the last few months, adding to the challenges of the chief minister who was forced to secure his chair, assuage dissent within his own government and party as well as lead the calamity-prone state out of the raging Covid-19 pandemic at the same time; many say his handling of the Covid situation in the state hasn’t been very good. The loss in the recent bypolls in Maski, people aware of the developments said, has also added to the disenchantment of the senior leadership.

“It has come to my notice that there are meetings being held in several places. Several ministers are also involved as I have noticed their statements in the media,” R Ashok, the state revenue minister and BJP MLA said on Wednesday. He is close to Yediyurappa.

“That they are meeting and going to Delhi has come to my notice. All of this is 100% true, there is no doubt about it. Some people are doing it directly and some indirectly,” Ashok added.

One senior leader said that there were murmurs within Karnataka but no direct signal has come from Delhi yet.

The “unwritten rule” within the BJP says no person shall hold any administrative post beyond 75 years of age. Yediyurappa turned 75 before the 2018 elections but the party, made him the chief ministerial face as it had no real second rung of leadership or alternatives that could appeal to all sides of the caste-influenced political culture in Karnataka.

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