BJP puts off action against Karnataka rebels

Indo Asian News Service

Belgaum (Karnataka), Dec 12 (IANS) The ruling BJP in Karnataka Wednesday put off action against 14 assembly and seven legislative council members for backing the new outfit, Karnataka Janata Party, floated by the party's former leader B.S. Yeddyurappa.

The state unit leaders Wednesday decided to write to the party's central leadership "in a day or two" on what action could and need to be taken against the rebels to prove that the Bharatiya Janata Party would not tolerate indiscipline.

These rebels had shared the dais with Yeddyurappa when he formally launched the Karnataka Janata Party at a public meeting in Haveri, about 70 km from here, on Sunday.

Yeddyurappa quit the BJP and the state assembly Nov 30.

The decision to put off action was taken after repeated assertions were made earlier by state BJP leaders that on Wednesday a decision would be taken about the "strong action" to be initiated against the rebels, even if it meant the fall of the Jagadish Shettar government.

"We discussed the issue and will write to our central leadership either today or tomorrow," state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa told reporters in this north Karnataka town, after attending a meeting of senior leaders of the party.

Belgaum is about 500 km from Bangalore. The winter session of the state legislature is currently on in this city.

Besides Eshwarappa, others at the meeting included Shettar, Home Minister R. Ashoka and former chief minister D.V. Sadanada Gowda.

Asked why a clear decision was not taken at the meeting, despite earlier warnings, Eshwarappa said the BJP was a national party, and the approval of the central leadership was necessary in such matters.

He said the party's parliamentary board would meet in New Delhi in a day or two to take the final decision in this regard.

Meanwhile, there is speculation that the party is biding time until balloting concludes in the Gujarat assembly elections Dec 17.

Action against the Karnataka rebels ahead of polling in that state could damage the party's electoral prospects in Gujarat, it is feared.

Including the 14 rebels, the BJP has 118 members in the 225-member assembly.

Some of the rebels have threatened that if action is taken against them, they would resign and thus reduce the Shettar government to a minority.

The Shettar ministry has less than six months left in office. The assembly elections in the state are due in May 2013.