Trouble in Karnataka BJP: Belagavi MLAs skip program with CM Yediyurappa

The decision to skip the event with the CM comes at a time when the Karnataka cabinet expansion is being discussed.
Trouble in Karnataka BJP: Belagavi MLAs skip program with CM Yediyurappa
Trouble in Karnataka BJP: Belagavi MLAs skip program with CM Yediyurappa
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Newly elected BJP MLAs from Karnataka’s Belagavi – Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumatahalli and Srimanth Patil seem to be distancing themselves from Chief Minister Yediyurappa. The three, who had rebelled against the Congress-JD(S) government, did not show up for the event where Yediyurappa inaugurated the Belagavi Smart City Limited’s integrated command and control centre on Wednesday.

Their absence in addition to Yediyurappa’s close aide, Umesh Katti’s late arrival to the event has raised several eyebrows. Sources close to Ramesh Jarkiholi say that the three MLAs were expected to travel from Bengaluru to Belagavi along with the CM but they refrained from doing so in order to show their dissatisfaction with the BJP leaders, who are trying to curb them from becoming ministers.

When Yediyurappa was asked what he is planning to do to pacify the leaders from Belagavi, he said, “I will go to New Delhi tomorrow (Thursday) and meet with the national leaders and discuss the issue of cabinet expansion. All those who won the bye-polls from Belagavi will be made ministers. Even Umesh Katti (MLA from Hukkeri who was kept out of the cabinet) will be made a minister,” Yediyurappa said.

The Karnataka cabinet expansion has put Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa in a rather awkward fix. Yediyurappa, who had promised to induct all 11 rebels, who won the bye-polls, into the cabinet is now facing their ire. This, after the high command suggested that only six to seven of the rebels be given ministerial berths instead of all 11. The fallout: MLAs from Belagavi – Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumatahalli and Srimanth Patil are distancing themselves from Yediyurappa.

“Initially all (former rebels) were together and demanding that they all get ministerial berths. Once the infighting began, they began lobbying only for themselves. It is only leaders from Belagavi who are trying to stick together and show that their support is crucial for the BJP as they even managed to ensure that other BJP MLAs Anand (Saundatti), Mahadevappa Yedawad (Ramdurg) and Balachandra Jarkiholi (Arabhavi) did not attend the function today (Wednesday),” the BJP source added.  

On Tuesday, speculation was rife that the BJP’s national leaders were opposed to appointing all 11 newly elected MLAs as ministers, especially all those who won from Belagavi and Bengaluru districts. This is a bitter pill for them to swallow as they resigned from their posts as MLAs, were cooped up at a hotel in Mumbai, faced the censure of their constituents, all for achieving one goal – to bring down the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

The 17 rebels had in July 2019 resigned on the promise from the BJP that they would be made ministers if they won the bye-polls. Although this seemed like a done deal in the past, pressure began building within the BJP as many party loyalists demanded that they be rewarded with ministerial berths as well.

In order to quell the discontent, the high command has proposed that six or seven of the 11 rebels, who won, be given ministries. On Tuesday, Jarkiholi and two other leaders from Belagavi met Yediyurappa and expressed their dissatisfaction. Yediyurappa, sources said, is hoping to convince the high command that the new MLAs be accommodated by openly making proclamations that all will be made ministers. 

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