Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday night met BJP MLAs from Mumbai-Karnataka region, the ruling party’s stronghold in the state. The purpose of the meeting was to pacify the MLAs who are upset with him over not taking them into confidence. Interestingly, Basangouda Patil Yatnal, the rebel MLA and former Union minister, was seated in the front row.
Yatnal has been at loggerheads with Yediyurappa for over a year now.
The moment Yediyurappa took his chair, a visibly agitated Yatnal stood up and started attacking the 78-year-old chief minister. Questioning his style of functioning, the senior leader asked him to keep his son BY Vijayendra out of administration.
A startled Yediyurappa tried his best to put up a brave face and tried to pacify Yatnal, denying allegations of any interference by his son in the administration.
However, Yatnal refused to yield and continued his attack on CM and his family members calling them a disgrace to Karnataka and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
According to an MLA who was present in the meeting, at one point, the Chief Minister lost his cool and told Yatnal to “get out”. It angered Yatnal further. “It is a party meet and not his private residence,” came Yatnal’s fierce retort on being asked to leave.
Not so surprisingly, except one, all other MLAs kept quiet and did not rush to defend BSY.
Honnali MLA and the CM’s political secretary, MP Renukacharya, tried to defend Yediyurappa. But, Yatnal firmly stood his ground demanding explanations from the CM.
The meeting ended inconclusively.
The fresh round of attack on BSY has led to all kinds of speculations over the stability of his government. The last weekend, newly appointed BJP national general secretary in-charge of Karnataka, Arun Singh, held a meeting in Yediyurappa’s hometown Shimoga, requesting all MLAs to cooperate. He has also ruled out the possibility of removal of the chief minister, hinting that there will be a disciplinary action against Yatnal for repeatedly breaching the party’s line.
However, Yatnal chose to ignore his warnings and took on the CM next day, triggering panic in the party camp.
Speaking to News18, Yatnal defended his stand and said that he was hurt by the attitude of the CM. “I have not breached the party line. I questioned him at the party meeting, not in public. How can anyone say that I violated the discipline,” he asked.
Yediyurappa camp believes that Yatnal has no backing in the party and his outbursts will have no impact on the CM chair. Some of his close aides believe that Yatnal was propped up by the RSS which does not share a good rapport with the CM. But, it is not in a position to come to his rescue because of his unpredictable nature. Officially, the RSS denies any involvement claiming it has nothing to do with internal affairs of the BJP.
The anti-BSY faction believes that Arun Singh is openly siding with the chief minister and there is no point in continuing the tirade against him.
Yatnal has vowed to continue his fight against BSY claiming he is trying to save the party’s image, which he believes dented by BSY’s family politics.
Yatnal, a Lingayat leader from Bijapur, was a minister of state Textiles and Railways in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-government. A two-time MP and three-time legislator, Yatnal looks increasingly isolated in the party as no one is coming forward to defend him in the public.
Meanwhile, the Yediyurappa faction is confident that the current crisis will blow over soon.