Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa will continue to lead the Karnataka government, top BJP sources told News18, adding that a few senior ministers - especially those who had rebelled against him - may face the axe and lose berths in the state cabinet.
Speculations have been rife for some time now that efforts were on within the ruling BJP to exert pressure for unseating Yediyurappa. Recent activities such as a visit by Tourism Minister C P Yogeshwar and Hubballi-Dharwad West MLA Arvind Bellad to Delhi, reportedly with an intention to meet the high command and express the feeling of some legislators against Yediyurappa’s style of functioning and request them to rein in the Chief Minister, gave credibility to such speculation.
Planning for the future?
For now, Yediyurappa will remain at the helm, however, the party high command is mulling a major cabinet reshuffle with at least half of the ministers being shown the door - a price they will pay for openly dissenting against the veteran leader, sources said.
Those in the know of the matter stressed that the move is more of a surgical procedure to set in motion the party’s preparations 2023 election. Some of the ‘immigrants’ are likely to be shunted out from the cabinet, they said.
According to party insiders, the high command has given a green signal to replace inactive ministers with party loyalists. It is said that, once the Covid-19 crisis is over, BJP national leaders will descend on Karnataka and a detailed plan for the rejig will be chalked out.
Also, citing certain decisions taken by the government, its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, and alleged instances of corruption, a few MLAs had been pushing for convening a legislature party meeting. This demand too has been struck down citing the Covid-19 lockdown.
Apart from Yogeeswara, senior MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal has also openly accused Yediyurappa’s son Vijayendra of interfering in the administration.
Terming these allegations as ‘baseless and motivated’, Vijayendra had written a complaint against Yogeshwar and, surprisingly, the party high command chose to stand with Vijayendra and has agreed to remove Yogeshwar from the cabinet, sources said.
Chosen One or the only choice?
Earlier also there has been intense speculation in some quarters that the BJP high command is mulling leadership change in Karnataka in the days to come considering Yediyurappa’s advancing age. Though the BJP had officially rejected outright such speculation in the past, it refused to die down, with some within the party like Yatnal giving credence to it with his statements, setting repeated deadlines for Yediyurappa’s exit.
Senior ministers like KS Eshwarappa had even written a formal complaint to the Governor accusing Yediyurappa of interfering in all the portfolios. However, now the top leadership has thrown the ball in the latter’s court.
Also, the party doesn’t have any other alternative leader as tall as BSY, sources pointed out.
And the party high command knows that if Yediyurappa is removed from the chief ministerial post, he will agitate and will take with him a sizable chunk of lawmakers that are loyal to him.
“Since he is old and may not contest the next assembly elections, Yediyurappa is not ready to bow down. If he is stripped of the post, it will definitely affect the BJP in the upcoming elections. The Lingayata community which has a 21 per cent vote share in Karnataka will strongly back him," a senior leader said.