Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who is trying to do a tight-rope walk on Cabinet expansion amid pressures from different lobbies, was visibly shaken at a public programme in central Karnataka when a seer demanded at least three ministerial berths for representatives from his community.
An outraged Yediyurappa got up from his seat next to the seer on the dais and said he would leave if the seer would make such statements.
“You should not say such things. I will not be able to work when you make such statements. You can give me advice, don’t threaten me," Yediyurappa told Vachananda Swamiji at a programe of the Karnataka Veerashaiva Lingayat Panchamashali Sangha at Harihar in Davangere district.
The Lingayat community has as many as eight ministers in the current 17-member Cabinet, while another three newly elected MLAs who had rebelled against their parties to join the BJP are hoping to be inducted in the next expansion.
In this backdrop, the lobbying by the Panchamashali group, a sub-sect among Lingayats to which Yediyurappa himself belongs didn’t seem to have gone down well with the CM.
“You must give at least four ministries to members of the Panchamashali sub-sect, considering that this community has solidly backed you from the beginning. But I know the plight you are facing. So I would say, make at least three ministers from among this sub-sect. And whatever you do, priority should be given to Murugesh Nirani, as he is one of the unquestioned leaders of the community. From the time this community has existed, he has been a pillar of support,” the seer said at the gathering.
“This sub-sect has stood like a pillar behind you. Don't let go of them (sacrifice their interest). If you do so, the community will let go of you in future,” he added.
That was when an upset Yediyurappa got up from his seat and asked him not to issue threats, but only dispense advice.
Soon after, the seer said, “I’m only giving advice… Please relax. We are only asking for our rights. This community has given you five additional MLAs in the recent by-elections."
Yediyurappa, who spoke a few minutes after this, later prevailed upon the gathering of the community to understand his plight.
“Please remember that if 17 MLAs had not resigned and waited almost in ‘vanavas’ (exile) for four months, Yediyurappa could not have become the CM. It is their sacrifice and the blessings of the Panchamashalis that I'm here at this place. Let the seer or anyone else give me advice, I will speak to them one-on-one. Talk about what I must do to ensure that I say in power for the next three years of remaining term. I will bow before you if you do that. If you don’t want to do that, I will resign and go home tomorrow, I'm ready for that. I’m not the type who would stick to my chair,” he said.
He told the gathering that he was aware he wouldn’t be in the CM's chair but for the help of the Pachamashali community, and he would want to repay their debts. However, he added that his focus would be on making concerted efforts to help farmers who have faced the brunt of floods as the state’s finances were not in a good state.
“I stay up till midnight to think about how to work out this situation. But you must understand my plight and give me advice based on that. I'm willing to listen to that any time,” he said.