BJP issues notice to Karnataka MLA for questioning Centre over flood relief

Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, the BJP MLA from Bijapur had earlier hit out at the BJP, saying it did not come to power by fluke but because of the hard work of people like him, and that the party should not take it lightly. Photo: Facebook.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) central disciplinary committee on Friday (October 4) issued a show-cause notice to Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, one of the party MLAs from North Karnataka, for questioning and criticising the Centre’s silence on flood relief in the state.

Yatnal, the BJP MLA from Bijapur had earlier hit out at the BJP, saying it did not come to power by fluke but because of the hard work of people like him, and that the party should not take it lightly. He even dragged the newly elected MPs into the picture, who have been asking the state to handle the situation and not approach the Centre. Yatnal said that it was the MPs’ job to actively seek flood relief instead of sitting at Bengaluru and Hubballi and commenting on it.

The delay in funds resulted in a major embarrassment for the ruling BJP as people in north Karnataka started questioning the party over their ineffective measures despite having 26 MPs from the state.

After the government failed to get immediate flood relief from the Centre, the opposition, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) tried to capitalise on the situation and direct people’s anger towards the ruling dispensation.

With no hint of funds being released even after two months (until Friday evening), and with rains still battering several parts of the state, the BJP workers in north Karnataka who were affected by the floods and their elected representatives raised their voice against party leaders.

Also read: Centre releases ₹1,200 cr flood relief after BJP workers rebel in Karnataka

Union minister DV Sadananda Gowda on Thursday (October 3) allegedly prevented Chakravarti Sulibele, founder of Yuva Brigade, an organisation linked to the BJP, from questioning the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lack of support. Gowda even went on to call Sulibele a “traitor”, triggering a war of words on Twitter.

Subsequently, the people of North Karnataka and the Congress’s social media cell started tweeting with the hashtag #NotfairModiji, making it a trending topic on the microblogging website. Sulibele, a social worker-turned-entrepreneur, enjoys considerable support in the north Karnataka region.

Gowda, after facing criticism from his own party workers and political analysts, soon withdrew his comments and said that he had not blocked Sulibele and that it was only a technical error.

In the backdrop of its own party workers raising concerns over the indifference towards the state at a time of need, the Centre, however, on Friday evening sanctioned ₹1,200 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund as interim flood relief for Karnataka.

The opposition parties too had latched on to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet earlier this week, in which he had mentioned the government’s assessment of flood situation in Bihar besides assuring all possible assistance, while totally ignoring the situation in Karnataka for the past two months.

Also read: Clipped wings, unhappy loyalists, high command orders mark Yedi’s rule

This lack of attention towards the state’s need of flood relief was turning the tide against the ruling BJP. Chief Minister Yediyurappa too seemed helpless since he had to battle internal indifferences and try to convince the Centre at the same time, which was unrelenting with regard to releasing funds.

The party’s central leadership has clipped Yediyurappa’s wings and taken control of decision-making powers within the state. This upset a section of party workers who support Yediyurappa, and they seem to be protesting against the Centre’s approach. Party loyalists often ruffle feathers by making comments that antagonise the Centre which puts the Chief Minister in a fix.

After the funds were released, the state unit of Congress slammed the central government, stating that it was a humiliation for the people of Karnataka.

“People of the state are humiliated with the allocation of ₹1200cr as against the state govt assessment of ₹35000cr. This shows that the center has zero confidence on @BSYBJP (Yediyurappa) govt & doesn’t believe him. Kannadigas patience is put to severe test from @narendramodi on a regular basis (sic),” said Karnataka Congress in a tweet.

The ravaging floods in August had affected seven lakh people across 22 districts in the state and damaged about 2.47 lakh houses. As many as 84 people lost lives during the floods. The state had initially estimated the loss to be around ₹38,411 crore, but later, it excluded the private buildings and the final estimation was around ₹3,290.

The Chief Minister had announced a relief of ₹5 lakh for completely damaged houses and ₹1 lakh for those partially damaged ones. However, the Centre’s ₹1,200 crore, in addition to the stat’s immediate outlay of ₹837 crore, still remains paltry when compared to the initial estimation of damages.

Chief Minister Yediyurappa also sought different departments to divert funds earmarked for other programmes towards flood relief measures in the northern region.

The government further took action against officials for not following the orders. It recently transferred an IAS officer, Rohini Sindhuri, for refusing to allow diversion of funds accumulated for the welfare of construction workers. Though Sindhuri had cited Supreme Court guidelines that does not allow such diversions, she was ousted for not following orders.

Before the funds were released on Friday, former Chief Minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy had alleged that there was a lack of trust between the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister.

“When I was the CM, there were floods in Kodagu (in 2018) and Modi had then coordinated (with me). But now, the Chief Minister’s inability to meet the PM shows the level of trust between the two,” Kumaraswamy told reporters in Mysuru.