Party high command wants a young and acceptable face to lead state
Bengaluru: Speculation is rife in the corridors of power in Karnataka that Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa may be replaced by the party high command.
Some senior ministers and MLAs have openly admitted that attempts are being made to replace Yediyurappa. Revenue minister R Ashoka, a Yediyurappa loyalist, admitted that he was aware of such activities in New Delhi. “We know that some people are trying to stop oxygen supply to the current government. But, we’re ensuring uninterrupted supply of oxygen,” he added.
Rebels hold meetings
The move against BSY comes amid reports that several BJP MLAs held meetings in small groups in Bengaluru, Hubballi and other places over the past few days to discuss leadership change. The MLAs, who attended these meetings, claimed that the party high command has reportedly directed the chief minister to convene a legislature party meeting after June 7, the last day of the lockdown to start the process.
The talk is that someone young and acceptable to the general public, cutting across caste considerations, is being considered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Amit Shah in consultation with senior leaders.
It is a known fact that the high command wants to replace the ageing Yediyurappa, but is waiting for the right time and opportunity to make the change without upsetting the dominant Lingayat community of which BSY is the tallest leader.
BSY dismisses reports
Meanwhile, Yediyurappa has rubbished reports of his replacement. “Just because someone went somewhere, it does not mean anything. They have been given an appropriate response,” he told the media, referring to two BJP leaders reportedly camping in Delhi hoping to meet the BJP high command.
“At a time when people are suffering because of Covid-19, anyone including legislators, ministers should only focus on alleviating people’s sufferings. I am only working on that,” he said. On reports that he has been asked to call for a legislative party meeting after June 7, the CM said he will not discuss the matter with the media.
What triggered the speculation of BSY’s replacement was that Tourism Minister CP Yogeeshwara and legislator Arvind Bellad visited Delhi armed with complaints from several other legislators against Yediyurappa’s handling of the Covid crisis. Several leaders have been complaining that they have not been able to meet the CM for over a year, particularly since the onset of the pandemic. Other complaints include centralisation of all decisions, increasing interference of Yediyurappa’s family members and corruption.
The anti-BSY group include former CM Jagadish Shettar, Siddu Savadi, Balachandra and Ramesh Jarkiholi, Basangouda Patil Yatnal along with Yogeshwara and Bellad. Several other leaders from Mumbai-Karnataka and Central Karnataka regions too are reportedly unhappy with the CM. It is due to the support from this region, mainly from the Lingayats, that the 78-year-old leader came to power. But now that support seems to be waning.
Yediyurappa, who got wind of the moves, ordered his loyalists to rally behind him and send a strong message. They held a meeting and later batted in his favour.
Lashing out at Yediyurappa’s detractors, senior BJP MLA SR Vishwanath declared that Yediyurappa would continue in office until the next assembly elections. Another MLA M Virupakshappa said Modi and Shah won’t risk losing a BJP government in the south by removing Yediyurappa.