Upset over the growing disgruntlement among BJP MLAs after the cabinet expansion, Karnataka Cheif Minister BS Yediyurappa announced that if the BJP MLAs have any objection they can go to Delhi and meet the national leaders. The stern statement from Yediyurappa is perceived as a sign of confidence that the central high command backs him completely.
The BJP central high command allowing Yediyurappa to expand the cabinet after a delay of four months and letting him appoint ministers of his choice is what gives Yediyurappa the confidence that he will hold on to the CM’s post for now.
However, the allegations by MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal that some people had blackmailed Yediyurappa with a secret CD and with the chief minister’s political secretary going to New Delhi to meet senior leaders after the cabinet expansion, may spell trouble for Yediyurappa in the future.
The Secret CD
Hours after Yediyurappa announced the cabinet expansion, MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal claimed that some blackmailed and bribed Yediyurappa for cabinet posts.
“Three people had come to me with a CD four months ago, at a guest house at Nelamangala, with a plan to make Yediyurappa step down. I was surprised that the chief minister’s grandnephew was also conspiring against him. Two of them have succeeded in joining the Cabinet,” alleged Yatnal.
He added that Yediyurappa made those, who blackmailed him, ministers. “Three people, one political secretary and two (sitting) ministers had been blackmailing him with some of his CDs for the last three months. One, who took oath as minister today, paid a hefty sum to Vijayendra (CM’s son) apart from using his CDs to blackmail him,” Yatnal said.
He went on to add that Yediyurappa completely ignored the party’s loyal workers.
The Deeper Trouble
While Yatnal is known for making ‘outrageous statements’ against Yediyurappa, a dozen more BJP legislators publicly criticising Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa is a cause of concern for him.
Karkala MLA Sunil Kumar tweeted: “Loyalty to party, development and Hindutva are my agendas. I do not know other ways. I haven’t learnt glorification of caste politics. I haven’t indulged in blackmail for posts and never will.” There were rumours that the three-time Karkala MLA Sunil Kumar will get a ministerial berth in today’s cabinet expansion.
Chief Minister’s Political Secretary M P Renukacharya lashed at Yediyurappa saying that legislators from Bengaluru and Belagavi and In fact, 40 percent of the state’s cabinet ministers are from these two districts.
“Yediyurappaji, what are the criteria for selection of ministers?” tweeted BJP’s Bommanahalli MLA Satish Reddy. He was one of the aspirants for the Cabinet. In his tweet, he further added: “Are you not able to see honest young workers of the party loyal to the state and central leaders? We are acutely feeling the absence of a leader like HN Ananth Kumar, who used to give a patient hearing to our problems.”
Some leaders in the party believe that over a dozen MLAs speaking out against the chief ministers will have its ramifications in the coming days. Some even argue that the cabinet expansion was part of the RSS’ plan to create disgruntlement against Yediyurappa.
Leadership Change Unlikely for Now
Despite the CD claims and the disgruntlement, a leadership change in the state is unlikely, say sources in the BJP.
The long delay in clearing the cabinet expansion was linked to the attempts by the RSS faction in BJP to remove Yediyurappa from power. However, the high command agreeing to the cabinet expansion and giving Yediyurappa his choice of ministers has now put those speculations to rest.
Despite MLAs’ raising complaints, BJP national general secretary Arun Singh has been insisting that there was no question of leadership change. Senior leaders in BJP say that with the state budget, COVID-19 vaccination drive, by-elections, and zilla panchayat elections it is unlikely that Yediyurappa will be removed from power anytime soon.
Most importantly, the BJP still doesn’t have a mass leader who can replace Yediyurappa’s popularity in the state.