‘Losers’ Get Plum Posts Ahead of Karnataka Bypolls to Stem Rebellion in State BJP Ranks
Eight BJP candidates who lost the 2018 assembly polls have been assigned posts as heads of various government-run boards and corporations by chief minister BS Yediyurappa to clear the way for MLAs who defected from Congress and JD(S) to contest the by-elections on December 5.
File photo of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.
Bengaluru: In a bid to stamp out the rebellion brewing within the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against the induction of ‘defected’ MLAs, Karnataka’s BS Yediyurappa government on Wednesday made key appointments to boards and corporations from among the dissidents.
By-elections to 15 constituencies are due on December 5 after a total of 17 MLAs resigned from the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) in July to bring down their coalition government. While they have not officially joined the BJP yet, it is a matter of time as they are waiting for the Supreme Court’s orders on their plea against their disqualification by the earlier Speaker, KR Ramesh Kumar.
With their joining imminent, many within the BJP had begun asking why they should be accommodated into the party and what would be their own position once these defectors were absorbed.
Some – like Sharath Bachegowda, son of the Chikkaballapur MP, BN Bachegowda – had started holding campaign meetings with supporters to plan a contest as an independent candidate. Sharath lost the 2018 assembly election by a margin of 7,595 votes to MTB Nagaraju, who was then with the Congress and jumped sides in July along with 16 other legislators to bring down the majority of the Congress-JD(S) government.
Sharath, along with seven other such defeated candidates, has been given important posts. All eight have been named chairpersons to government-run boards and corporations, in an obvious bid to stymie their plans to revolt against the candidates who will be fielded by the BJP in the December by-elections.
Sharath has been made chairman of the Karnataka Housing Board, a powerful institution with considerable funding.
Similarly, Nandiesha Reddy is now vice-chairman of the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation, the state-run bus service. Reddy lost the 2018 assembly election by 32,000-plus votes to the-then Congress nominee BA Basavaraja – who is currently a disqualified MLA but is hoping to win a favourable verdict in the Supreme Court and contest the bypolls.
HR Gaviyappa, the BJP candidate who lost to Anand Singh in Vijayanagara constituency in Bellary, is the new chairman of the Small Industries Development Corporation.
Erstwhile BJP nominee in Maski in Raichur district, Basanagouda Turvihal, who had lost by just about 200 votes to Pratapgouda Patil in 2018, has been made chairman of the Command Area Development Authority (CADA) dealing with the Tungabhadra river-fed areas of the water resources department that is usually flush with funds. He will be dealing with projects in north-east Karnataka, headquartered at Raichur.
Bharamagouda (Raju) Kage, the candidate who lost the Kagwad seat to Shrimant Patil by more than 33,000 votes, will be the other chairman of CADA, to oversee projects related to the Malaprabha, Ghataprabha river projects in Belagavi in north-west Karnataka.
Andalagi VS Patil, the BJP nominee from Yellapur who had lost to Shivaram Hebbar by 1,400-odd votes, has also been ‘placated’ by being named chairman of the North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation.
UB Banakar, who suffered a defeat by a margin of 555 votes to BC Patil in Hirekerur, has been made chairman of the Karnataka State Agricultural Produce and Processing Corporation Limited.
Ashok Ningayyaswami Pujari, who lost to Ramesh Jarkiholi on the Gokak assembly seat, is now chairman of the Karnataka Border Area Development Authority. Jarkiholi, to a large extent, has been considered the main strategist for the defectors to switch sides over the months of June and July to bring the government down.
Sources in the BJP say that all the defectors have been promised ministerial berths once they are able to get legalities cleared for their induction – Jarkiholi in particular has been promised the water resources ministry.
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