Ready to quit, go home: Yediyurappa to Lingayat seer who demanded ministerial berth for MLA
Bengaluru: A red-faced and fuming Karnataka Chief Minister Yediyurappa on Tuesday threatened to resign from his post after a seer belonging to the Panchamsali sect of Lingayats, and less than half his age, demanded that BJP MLA Murugesh Nirani be inducted into the cabinet failing which he would face the wrath of the community.
Yediyurappa is from the Lingayat community that has a large base in Karnataka.
With the CM sitting next to him at the event of the Panchamsali sect in Harihar in north Karnataka, Swami Vachanand told a large gathering that “Murugesh Nirani has stood with you like a rock. Induct him into the cabinet, otherwise, the Panchamsali Lingayats will abandon their support to you.”
What followed was a public spat. Already under immense pressure to expand his Cabinet and accommodate over a dozen rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs, Yediyurappa lost his cool. An agitated CM immediately got up and shouted at the Swami telling him, ‘Don’t threaten me. You can advise but don’t threaten.”
The Swami was taken aback. Yediyurappa was than about to walk out of the meeting saying “If this is how you talk, I will leave right away. I do not want to be here. I cannot work as per your demands. How can you threaten me? You can give me suggestions, but I will not be threatened like this. I am not addicted to power. I will resign and walk away rather than falling prey to threats.”
Taken aback by the CM’s outburst, Swami Vachanand tried to calm Yediyurappa and the crowd. A highly irritating CM then turned his ire at Murgesh Nirani.
The seer toned down the demand and requested to accommodate Nirani.
When his turn to speak came, Yediyurappa returned the discourtesy to the seer. Pointing a finger at him he said: “Understand my situation and limitations. I am Chief Minister today thanks to the sacrifice made by 17 lawmakers who resigned.” And then lacing his speech with sarcasm, the CM said: “For the next three years I will sit with the seer and seek his suggestions on how to run the government.”
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Community and BJP leaders including home minister Basvraj Bommai later tried to pacify the CM.
Yediyurappa is under pressure from all quarters to expand his cabinet. To make matters worse, the party bosses in Delhi are not moving an inch to help him. The BJP high command is yet to green signal Yeddyurappa’s election promise to induct all the 11 ‘rebel’ MLAs who switched from Congress and JD (S) into the cabinet.
The CM had to cancel his visit to Davos to ensure that the fire from dissidents does not spread.
The BJP has a full majority of 117 seats in a 225 member assembly (including a nominated member), after the party swept bypolls winning 12 of the 15 seats. , Yediyurappa has been struggling to expand his cabinet.
Murugesh Nirani speaking to reporters later said, “Yeddyurappa is like a father to us. Even if he says something it will be in our interest only.” He also expressed confidence that the BJP government would complete its full term.
Yediyurappa had earlier said that he would consult BJP President Amit Shah who will be in the state on January 18 to address a pro-CAA rally and then expand the cabinet.
Congress made full use of the episode. Party spokesperson VS Ugrappa taunted the CM saying, “Yeddyurappa is not a tiger but a rat. He is not able to even get even an audience with Modi. After promising to induct the rebel MLAs within 24 hours of winning, he hasn’t been able to do anything. Wouldn’t be surprised if he resigns due to political frustration and inability to have his way.”
Sources say the CM’s outburst is a clear indication of his frustration with his party’s high command and his inability to honor the promise he made to the MLAs who crossed over from the opposition.