Amid speculation about discontent within the ruling BJP in Karnataka after a section of legislators held meetings last week, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday said he was focused on the state's development and containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I'm working for the development of the state and towards containing the spread of COVID, I'm focused on it, I'm not worried about other issues.
I would not like to react about it," Yediyurappa told reporters in response to a question.
Reacting to reported comments by certain BJP legislators stating that Yediyurappa is not their leader, he merely said he would not wish to comment on it.
This was the first response by the chief minister in person after recent meetings by a section of legislators set alarm bells ringing in the ruling party.
However, Yediyurappa not giving any direct reaction regarding the recent meetings or denying any discontentment against his leadership has given some credence to the speculation, party sources said.
Ministerial aspirations of some senior legislators and impending elections to the Rajya Sabha and state legislative council is said to have triggered the politicking, as over a dozen party legislators, mostly from north Karnataka, met at senior MLA Umesh Katti's city residence over meals on Thursday.
Katti, an eight-time MLA, who has been sulking for not being made minister, is also making frantic efforts for his brother Ramesh Katti to be chosen for the Rajya Sabha seat that will fall vacant soon.
Though several legislators, who attended the meeting, including Katti, had tried to downplay it by calling it a casual meeting, another senior legislator Basanagouda Patil Yatnal's comments gave credence to the speculation about the discontent raging within.
Claiming that he was upset regarding development of his constituency, Yatnal, while denying ministerial aspirations and rebellion against the chief minister, however, maintained that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were his leaders and Yediyurappa was "only the chief minister."
Responding to a question about change in leadership, Yatnal, a former Union minister, said it was for the high command to decide and he would share his opinion on the matter at the right forum.
According to the sources, several MLAs at the meeting had expressed unhappiness over grants to their constituency for developmental works and Yediyurappa's style of functioning.
Though a section within the BJP played down the meetings as pressure tactics to fulfill their aspirations or to get certain benefits, some within the party see it as a "show of strength" against Yediyurappa's leadership and may demand for cabinet reshuffle and share in the RS and council
nominations in the days to come.
This is not the first time such a meeting has taken place. In February, a similar meeting by legislators, mostly from north Karnataka at a senior minister's residence in the midst of the assembly session, had raised eyebrows within the ruling BJP circles.
Several senior leaders of the BJP have been sulking over being denied ministerial berths despite being long time party loyalists, and instead it being given to those who joined the party quitting the Congress and JD(S).