Bengaluru: A worried Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Wednesday called an emergency meeting of his top ministers and officials at his official residence ‘Cauvery’. The reports of a huge surge in coronavirus cases across the state, particularly in Bengaluru, the lack of resources to cope with it and a growing clamour for another lockdown forced him to summon the officials early in the morning.
According to his close aides, Yediyurappa expressed dissatisfaction over the state losing its edge over other states in the last one week, negligence by officials and lack of preparedness to fight the spread of dreaded virus in the coming days. He felt that fatigue has set in.
In the first three months of lockdown, Yediyurappa had managed the crisis quiet, well earning all round praise. A central team comprising top officials which met him on Tuesday also expressed satisfaction over his handling of the unprecedented health crisis.
However, the exodus of people from Bengaluru fearing one more lockdown, spike in cases across the city and rest of the state, opposition Congress and JDS’s demand for a temporary lockdown at least in the state capital, seem to have unnerved the 78-year-old BJP stalwart, who is fighting a lone battle against the Covid-19.
Some insiders claim that the chief minister is against one more lockdown as it might completely ruin the economy. In June, Karnataka collected about Rs 7,000 crore in GST, becoming the second highest earner in India, after neighbouring Maharashtra.
After seeing tens of thousands fleeing Bengaluru, Yediyurappa himself made fervent appeals promising them that there will be no extension of lockdown. However, the growing demand for one more round of a lockdown at least for two weeks to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases has caused him a lot of trouble.
As Yediyurappa was in deliberations at his house, three kilometers away in Central Business District (CBD) of the city, local Congress MLA NA Harris was doing a road show urging people to go for a voluntary lockdown.
According to him, lockdown is the only option left before the government to contain the spread of virus. He has accused the state government of preferring revenue over the life of people.
In the meantime, deputy chief minister Dr CN Ashwathnarayan has blamed bureaucrats for blocking the government’s plan to brace for a situation like Italy. He said that bureaucrats were under the impression that politicians were overdoing it. His statement has not gone down well with the officials who are leading the fight against coronavirus.
Yediyurappa is worried that if he does not act now, his opponents in the party might brand him a “failure” to unseat him soon. It is no secret that certain elements in state BJP are not happy with his style of functioning and trying to dislodge him.
“Caught between a rock and hard place”, Yediyurappa knows he is running out of time and needs to do something at the earliest to reverse the trend and public opinion in his favour.