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Yediyurappa downplays infighting talks, says focus on Covid

Bengaluru As murmurs of leadership change grow loud in Karnataka, chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Thursday said his only priority was to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and that he had no reason to indulge in other matters
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2021 12:25 AM IST

Bengaluru

As murmurs of leadership change grow loud in Karnataka, chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Thursday said his only priority was to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and that he had no reason to indulge in other matters.

“I only have Covid in front of me. To control it and people’s welfare is my only priority. If someone went to someplace, they have been sent back with an answer,” Yediyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru on Thursday.

The statement came a day after at least two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including one minister, went to Delhi, purportedly to meet the party top brass in connection with the possibility of a change in leadership in the state.

The clamour of an imminent leadership change in Karnataka has grown louder with increasing instances of conflict within the BJP and the government led by Yediyurappa.

At least two BJP legislators aware of the developments indicated a possible change post the calming of the pandemic, which continues to keep Karnataka in its firm and tightening grip.

The recent defeat in Maski assembly bypoll and wafer-thin margin of victory in Belagavi Lok Sabha by-election has also gone against the 78-year-old chief minister.

CP Yogeshwara, member of the Karnataka legislative council and minister for tourism, ecology and environment, on Thursday said he went to Delhi “for personal reasons”.

Yogeshwara was one of the two leaders who rushed to Delhi on Tuesday, fueling speculation of possible leadership changes in the party.

“I keep going to Delhi and can’t say everything to the media. I will share more in the coming days,” Yogeshwara told reporters in Bengaluru on Thursday.

He added that he went to Delhi to convey his own problems.

He, however, reiterated that the BJP in Karnataka was working like a coalition government with the other two political parties--apparent reference to Congress and Janata Dal (Secular)--appeared to be in power.

“The day I became an MLC, I said it does not appear as a pure BJP government. It appears to be a three-party government that is taking shape,” he said.

He added that he would not allow anyone else to wield power in his administrative jurisdiction. Yogeshwara lost his seat against HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) in Channapatna in 2018 assembly elections. He, however, was able to secure a seat in the legislature, apparently rewarded for his role in securing the support of the 17 turncoat legislators who defected to the BJP, which led to the collapse of the Kumaraswamy-led JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the state.

Meanwhile, other ministers in the BJP tried to rally behind Yediyurappa, dismissing any speculation of a leadership change.

MP Renukacharya, BJP legislator from Honnali and political secretary to the chief minister, on Thursday used the choicest of abuses against Yogeshwara and his apparent attempt to seek a leadership change.

The entire episode has widened the rift within the BJP, making them an easier target for the opposition to go after in the run up to the 2023 assembly elections.

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