Speculation on leadership change continues to haunt Yediyurappa

B.S. Yediyurappa  

Amid a string of key political meetings and a petition being signed by a group of BJP MLAs against Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, speculation was again rife on Tuesday of a possible leadership change in the State. The Chief Minister’s camp shot this down as “baseless” talk, but intense lobbying to dislodge him seems to have been taken up with renewed energy.

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and the Chief Minister’s son B.Y. Vijayendra met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Sunday. Mr. Bommai has denied that it was a political meeting, given that Mr. Vijayendra accompanied him. But this meeting was closely followed by BJP State president Nalin Kumar Kateel and party national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh meeting the Chief Minister at his residence on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, fuelling further speculation. Both meetings were termed “courtesy visits”.

The camp within the BJP lobbying hard to dislodge the Chief Minister has argued with the high command that Mr. Yediyurappa had failed to efficiently handle the pandemic and not prepared enough for the impending oxygen crisis, resulting in people directing their anger towards the Union government. A “campaign” in this regard began immediately after the Chamarajanagar tragedy, when C.T. Ravi, party national general secretary, said the government was responsible. This was followed by a livestreamed expose of an alleged scandal by party MP Tejasvi Surya and three MLAs.

Land deal

What has also raised hackles within the party is the recent decision to sell 3,667 acres of land to Jindal Steel Works (JSW) without any modification of the lease-cum-sale agreement — something the party had opposed tooth and nail when H.D. Kumaraswamy was Chief Minister. Over 20 MLAs have signed a petition on the issue and submitted it to the high command, multiple sources in the party confirmed. The effort was headlined by dissident legislator Basanagouda Patil Yatnal.

However, sources close to the Chief Minister maintained that Mr. Bommai and Mr. Vijayendra had a “positive meeting” with Mr. Shah on Sunday and the matter of leadership change was not discussed. “The meeting happened in light of the Karnataka High Court’s direction to the Centre to give 1,200 MTD oxygen to the State every day. The petition by BJP legislators opposing the JSW land sale also came up, and the duo explained the legal position that the lease-cum-sale agreement the Government of Karnataka had signed had to be honoured and the sale of land was fait accompli,” said a strategist close to Mr. Yediyurappa.

His camp also said that especially after the second wave of COVID-19 triggering public anger against all governments, irrespective of the party in power, the BJP was unlikely to dislodge Mr. Yediyurappa, who is seen as a leader with a connect to the masses.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 4:40:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/speculation-on-leadership-change-continues-to-haunt-yediyurappa/article34538418.ece

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