‘Dinner meeting’ of Karnataka BJP MLAs sets alarm bells ringing in party

The impending elections to the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Council in June seem to be the triggers that have brought the politicking back.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa is yet again facing rebellion in his ranks.

A “dinner meeting” held by a section of MLAs from North Karnataka on Thursday night points to simmering discontent in the ruling BJP bubbling up once more.

The impending elections to the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Council in June seem to be the triggers that have brought the politicking back.

The Chief Minister had earlier hinted at Ministerial expansion after the elections.

Ministerial aspirants

As many as 13 BJP MLAs met at senior MLA and Ministerial aspirant Umesh Katti’s Bengaluru residence on Thursday night.

Most of those who attended the meeting have also been Ministerial aspirants.

While Mr. Katti and Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, senior MLA, tried to downplay the significance of the meeting and called it a “casual dinner”, Mr. Yatnal conceded that he was upset with the Chief Minister, but denied that it was linked to his ministerial aspiration.

He claimed that he was upset that the development funds for his constituency were being held up.

While he denied “rebellion” against the Chief Minister, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were his leaders and Mr. Yediyurappa was “only the Chief Minister.”

When quizzed whether there was a demand to change the Chief Minister, he said: “It is for the high command to decide. I would tell my opinion on the present leadership only to the high command and not publicly.”

Sources confirmed that this was not the first such meeting and at least two more have taken place over the last one week. To defuse the crisis, Mr. Yediyurappa had earlier promised many leaders of making them MLCs during the June polls to the Council.

He had also promised several leaders of ministerial berths besides hinting that Cabinet expansion may take place soon after the Council polls.

It may be recalled that two anonymous letters demanding a change of leadership were widely circulated in February around Mr. Yediyurappa’s birthday, a campaign that took a backseat with the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Mr. Yediyurappa seems to have taken a tough stance on dissidence this time. On Friday morning, he clarified on Twitter that he had not called for any emergency meeting of his party legislators, as was being reported in a section of media, indicating he was in no mood to talk to dissidents. He held several meetings, mostly related to handling the pandemic, as scheduled.

A close confidante of the Chief Minister termed the series of meetings by disgruntled leaders as “political lobbying and pressure tactics for a Cabinet berth” that has kicked in and will unlikely snowball into a bigger crisis.

“In normal course, Cabinet expansion would have happened as scheduled. But with COVID-19 crisis on hand, it is now left to the Chief Minister and the high command to take a call,” he said.

Other MLAs who attended the dinner meeting were Rajugouda, Dattatreya Patil, Halappa Achar, Paranna Munavalli, Siddu Savadi, Mahadevappa Yedavad, Shivaraj Patil, Balachandra Jarkiholi. They have all been ministerial aspirants and were part of similar meetings earlier. Mr. Yatnal is a new addition to the rebels group.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 7:07:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/rebellion-in-bjp-as-mlas-hold-dinner-meeting/article31705172.ece

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