Bengaluru: As expected, the much awaited reshuffle of BS Yediyurappa’s cabinet has failed to douse the “dissidence" flames in the BJP and has instead added fuel to fire. After the chief minister filled up seven vacancies by inducting new ministers on Wednesday, a civil war appears to have broken out in the ruling BJP in Karnataka.
Defectors the Congress and JD(S), and senior MLAs originally from the BJP, who have not made it to the cabinet, are openly breathing fire and threatening to burn the entire house down.
Senior BJP MLA and former Union Minister BR Patil Yatnal has alleged that Yediyurappa has made three legislators ministers after they threatened him with a CD. Speaking to the media in Bijapur, he said, “There is an obscene CD featuring the chief minister. It was recorded by his own grand nephew at his house. These people are blackmailing him with that CD. The same people who have now become ministers had come to me two months ago with the same CD, asking me to join them to unseat Yediyurappa. The chief minister and his son BY Vijayendra are destroying the BJP for personal gains. I will continue my fight".
He also charged the chief minister with succumbing to pressure from opposition Congress MLAs. “Some senior Congress MLAs also have this CD. They are threatening the CM with that. That’s why they are getting so much government grants for their respective constituencies. Whereas, we the BJP MLAs are not getting anything. Soon, all these will be in public domain" he said.
BJP MLC H Vishwanath, who defected from the JD(S) and helped make Yediyurrappa the chief minister in July 2019, has made similar allegations saying the chief minister is scared of a CD featuring him in it.
Attacking Yediyurrappa for making turncoat MLC CP Yogishwar a minister, Vishwanath said that he had paid money to Vijayendra to get a cabinet berth.
“Vijayendra is running the government. Yogishwar has paid him a huge amount of money. Yogishwar is a fraud, a crook and a ‘420’. What explains the necessity to make him a minister, other than blackmailing or money?" he asked.
Vishwanath said that the CD would be released soon. He also requested Prime Minister Narendera Modi to end Yediyurappa’s dynastic rule in Karnataka.
Besides these two, over a dozen senior BJP MLAs have also openly expressed displeasure over not being inducted into the Cabinet.
Sunil Kumar, Abhay Patil, Siddu Savadi, MP Renukacharya, Appachchu Ranjan, SA Ramadas, Aravind Bellad and a few others are sulking and claim that party discipline is preventing them from going to public with their complaints against the Chief Minister.
Reacting to the charges, Yediyurappa said that those who are upset can complain to BJP high command in New Delhi.
Speaking to the media he said “I have my limitations. There are just 34 Cabinet berths and we have 120 MLAs. Not possible to make everyone a minister. If anyone has a complaint against me, they can go to high command in New Delhi. Making such baseless, serious allegations against me in public is not good".
The main opposition Congress has demanded a judicial probe into the allegations by a sitting judge of the Karnataka High Court.
The KPCC president DK Shivakumar said that the allegations were serious in nature and there should be an impartial inquiry into it. “If anyone has blackmailed the CM with a CD, he should file a case against them. It is a dangerous thing. Can’t ignore", he said.
Meanwhile, the state BJP is divided into three factions. One loyal to Yediyurappa, the other opposed to him and the third one neutral, concerned about its political fortunes.
The “seedy" developments will surely affect the functioning of the 18-month-old Yediyurappa government in Karnataka in the days to come.