Another ‘agni pariksha’ awaits Yediyurappa – to save his CM’s chair

Sources say CM’s appointment of 24 BJP MLAs, many of whom aspired cabinet berths, as heads of boards has triggered demand to replace him with  deputy CM Laxman Savadi

Karnataka government, BJP government, Congress, JD (S), HD Kumaraswamy, Siddaramaiah, Karnataka CM, B S Yediyurappa
Considering that the party high command has long been waiting to replace Yediyurappa and given his history of rebelling against the party in the past, political analysts believe any change in leadership could unsettle the BJP in Karnataka

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurapppa who termed the past one year of his government an ‘agni pariksha’ (trial by fire) on its first anniversary celebrations held recently, may be in for a second round of the test anytime soon, with rumours of a political logjam flying around.

Speculations are rife that Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi’s visit to Delhi on Monday (July 27) was to get the high command’s nod to replace Yediyurappa as the chief minister. Savadi reportedly also met RSS leader BL Santhosh who is leading a front of party MLAs against Yediyurappa. Posters projecting him as the chief minister also made the rounds on social media platforms at the same time.

Savadi who skipped the Karnataka BJP government’s one year anniversary celebrations and instead flew to Delhi, however, has downplayed the visit and rebuffed any political motive behind it.

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“Media doing political analysis on unimportant developments is detrimental to social well-being. Needless publicity about my Delhi visit is not required. Meeting with party veterans was predefined and our goal is to bring a health revolution and maintain wellness (of the people),” he said in a tweet on Tuesday (July 28). He also appealed to his loyalists and cadres against putting up “baseless” social media posts.

The development comes in the wake of the chief minister appointing 24 BJP legislators as chairpersons of different boards and corporations in the state. A sizable chunk of MLAs close to Yediyurappa and belonging to the Lingayat community made it to the list.

With the Congress and JD(S) rebels–A H Vishwanath, R Shankar and MTB Nagaraj— losing the bypolls and instead being accommodated in the Legislative Council, the chief minister may try to give them ministerial posts during the filling up of six vacant cabinet berths or during a cabinet rejig.

The chief minister is under pressure to fulfil the promises made to defectors who helped the BJP come to power in Karnataka.

Many MLAs expressed displeasure over the appointments to boards and corporations, fearing it could take away their chances of becoming ministers. Senior BJP leader from Chitradurga, GH Thippareddy, rejected the appointment and called it an ‘insult’. “I am a six-time MLA. I don’t need an appointment to a board. I qualify to be a minister and it is my right,” Thippareddy had said.

Also, Thirthahalli MLA Araga Jnanendra who lobbied for a cabinet post in the past expressed his displeasure again after the chief minister appointed him as the chief of Karnataka Housing Board.

The lone woman minister in the cabinet, Shashikala Jolle, whose husband Annasaheb Jolle is serving as a member of Parliament, also went to Delhi to meet the party leaders, fearing she may lose the ministerial post during the cabinet rejig that is likely to come up next month.

Considering that the party high command has long been waiting to replace Yediyurappa and given his history of rebelling against the party in the past, political analysts believe any change in leadership could unsettle the BJP in Karnataka.

One of the senior leaders in Yediyurappa’s rival camp said the central team’s decision to replace him might not come until the pandemic is controlled. “We are in the midst of pandemic and any change in leadership might drag the party down as the focus would shift from health infrastructure to party politics. So nothing might change for the next couple of months at least,” the senior leader said.

That said, with DK Shivakumar’s appointment as the Congress chief in the state and their corruption allegations playing out large, the party high command is closely monitoring how the Yediyurappa government handles the COVID crisis, the source said.

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