In a big political development in Karnataka, a sitting minister lodged a complaint against Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa with Governor Vajubhai Vala on Wednesday claiming undue interference by the CM in department matters to favour his kin.
Rural Development Minister KS Eshwarappa, an aide-turned-rival within the BJP for Yediyurappa, claimed that the CM had violated multiple rules and procedures on multiple occasions in sanctioning department funds.
Eshwarappa in his complaint said that he had tried to internally address the matter concerning allocation of funds with the CM, but his complaints were not looked into. He requested the Governor to advise the CM to adopt a policy of “non-interference” in his discharge of constitutional responsibilities.
The complaint mentions that these “lapses” by the CM had been communicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah as well.
The letter comes at a time when Yediyurappa is facing ire of the Lingayat community, of which he is thought to be the undisputed leader.
Eshwarappa wrote, “I am at pain, to bring to your kind notice, some of the recent actions of our respected chief minister relating to my Department, which amounts to direct interference in the affairs of ministers in charge of departments, in clear violation of Karnataka Government (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1977, and also against the established practices and procedures relating to the affairs of the state administration.”
He went to cite several provisions of the Karnataka Government (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1977, to prove his point.
Raising the issue of alleged favouring of kin, Eshwarappa mentioned that the president of the Bengaluru Urban Zilla Panchayat is a close relative of the CM. He said while a list of proposed civil works in the ZP was due for clearance as per procedure, the CM sanctioned those plans in violation of Panchayati Raj Act and Karnataka Government (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1977.
He said, “It is highly unfortunate that the hon’ble chief minister knowingly issued such orders, ignoring the minister in charge of the department. If this trend of bypassing ministers and violating rules continues, I do not know where I stand as a minister in charge of the department.”
He added that the CM had sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 774 crore under the Rural Development & Panchayat Raj department without consulting him. Another Rs 460 crore worth of works were sanctioned by the CM without consulting him by putting pressure on the principal secretary, he said.
The rivalry between Yediyurappa and Eshwarappa, many say, dates back to when the two leaders fought over dominance of Shivamogga. Yediyurappa, who won that round, went on to become BJP’s first CM in Karnataka. In 2009-10, when Yediyurappa was facing political attacks from many quarters of his own party, Eshwarappa who was a cabinet colleague, was one of the most vocal opponents.
While many had spoken against the former CM when Yediyurappa quit BJP and formed KJP, Eshwarappa had been particularly caustic.
Their animosity resurfaced in public in 2016 over Eshwarappa being apparently ignored for the party’s state vice-president position while Yediyurappa was the state president.
Eshwarappa, who was trying to find his own footing in the party, had set up the Sangolli Rayanna Brigade – a parallel outfit to unite Dalits under the party fold – which was considered to be largely a Congress vote bank. Eshwarappa was unhappy as Yediyurappa was appointing those who had quit the BJP along with him in 2013 while ignoring BJP loyalists like him.
However, that fight was quelled with the intervention of Amit Shah, the party’s erstwhile national president, and Eshwarappa was given the position of president of the BJP’s OBC Morcha.
Under the surface, Eshwarappa and Yediyurappa had been differing on the issue of towing the RSS hardline. While Eshwarappa is a RSS favourite, Yediyurappa is known to take independent stands from time to time unlike other heavyweight BJP leaders.
(This story was first published on The News Minute and has been republished here with permission.)