BJP’s Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh on Friday during his three-day visit to the state warned of action against those who violate party discipline amid rumours of replacing Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. Singh. Arun Singh, who earlier ruled out a change in leadership, implicitly said during the Karnataka BJP core committee meeting that Yediyurappa shall continue as the CM.
“Leadership in Karnataka won’t change. It is known that two or three people are damaging the party by speaking against the BJP’s interests. If they remain adamant on their stance despite discussion, action will be initiated against them,” Singh said after the core committee meeting in Bengaluru. In a gesture signifying that everything was in his favour, Yediyurappa was seen emerging with a victory sign from the core committee meeting.
Revenue Minister R Ashoka who was also part of the meeting said that they did not discuss leadership change. "The leadership issue was not discussed. Yediyurappa is our leader, there is no change in that. Our in-charge Arun Singh has asked me to make it clear. The government will function under his (Yediyurappa) leadership,” said Ashoka while speaking to the press in the city.
Further elaborating on the decisions of the core committee meeting, Ashoka said it was decided to improve the image of the government and the party in the state and have proper coordination between the two. He said the party would hold its state executive meeting on June 26 in Bengaluru, organise district executives’ meetings from July 1 to 15 and Mandal executive meetings from July 16 to 31.
Yediyurappa earlier in the day had downplayed the dissidence against him as he ruled out any political crisis in the state. "There is no political crisis at all. The current happenings have been caused by one or two people issuing statements to the media which is creating confusion. These one or two people speaking against me is not new, they have been doing it since the beginning and it is getting highlighted," he said, pointing out that Singh did not even meet those involved in such activities. He further said that he and his cabinet are focusing on the developmental works.
Speculations have been rife for some time now that a section of the ruling BJP is trying to push for unseating Yediyurappa, despite Arun Singh, party state President Nalin Kumar Kateel and other senior leaders ruling out replacing the Chief Minister and asserting that the 78-year-old Lingayat strong man will continue in the top post.
Despite being warned not to make open statements, disgruntled BJP MLC A H Vishwanath on June 18 once again demanded Yediyurappa’s ouster and levelled allegations of corruption and interference in the administration against his younger son and party vice-president, BY Vijayendra. "The government has approved the Upper Bhadra Project worth over Rs 21,000 crore. Is there money with the government? This is being done just for kickbacks," he alleged.
Yediyurappa had then said the high command would decide on what action should be taken against him. On the charge against his son and kickbacks in an irrigation project, the CM said baseless allegations were being made for political reasons.
To add to this, charges of phone-tapping and conspiracy to fix him by Hubli-Dharwad West MLA Arvind Bellad, who is said to be from the faction seeking Yediyurappa's replacement had caused further embarrassment to the party and the government. However, Vijayapura MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and Tourism Minister CP Yogeshwar, who are also from the disgruntled group and had openly spoken against the government and Yediyurappa in the past, maintained a low profile during Singh's visit.
These allegations against the government and its leadership had also resulted in a slugfest between the camps in favour of Yediyurappa and those seeking his replacement, even as Singh held a series of meetings with party leaders. Singh had held meetings with Ministers and met 40-odd legislators individually from factions in favour of Yediyurappa, those against him and those seemingly neutral. According to some BJP sources, he is likely to submit a report to the party's national leadership. A few legislators believe the party may go in for a cabinet shuffle, as many of them have complained about a lack of social and regional balance in the Yediyurappa ministry.