Amid Covid-19, political air in K'taka thickens with speculation


Bengaluru, May 30 Facing political crises is not something new for Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, but the timing of the latest one, apparently brewing since Thursday, is something that he would prefer to avoid.

With his hands full on the Covid-19 issue, and polls scheduled for the Rajya Sabha and state legislative council, Yediyurappa is facing the heat as he walks the tightrope to keep disgruntled partymen happy.

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An innocuous lunch meet on Thursday, which was attended by around 15 MLAs of the BJP, has given rise to speculation of a political crisis brewing in the ruling party of Karnataka.

It's only a few months ago that Yediyurappa managed to form the government after gaining the support of rebel Congressmen and Janata Dal (S) legislators. The erstwhile rebels from the opposition parties had resigned from the assembly and contested on BJP tickets in the bye-elections.

While most of the winning candidates were given plum postings, the Chief Minister also has to stand by his word to accommodate the losing candidates. Something that is not palatable to the party legislators who see themselves losing out on the opportunities of office.

At stake are six vacancies in the Karnataka Cabinet, headed by Yediyurappa. Similarly, four RS seats are up for election in June from the state. A further 16 seats in the legislative council are also up for grabs in June.

The lunch meet at legislator Umesh Katti's residence had around 15 party legislators in attendance, and claimed the backing of another 10 MLAs.

For the record, Umesh Katti has denied any ulterior motives to the meet. Speaking to media, he had claimed that it was merely a meet to savour the delectable foodstuffs of north Karnataka. Umesh Katti said that any grievances would be discussed in the party forums.

However, some of the MLAs who were present at the lunch indicated that all is not well. Some of them claimed that development works in their constituencies have been pending for long.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister's camp has been on an overdrive mode to quell the atmosphere of uncertainty. The Chief Minister tweeted on Friday, "I have noticed news reports that I have convened an emergency meeting with a few legislators, but it's far from truth".

Yediyurappa 's acolytes in the party have ruled out any trouble for the government. Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi claimed that around 25 Congress legislators are in touch with him and he can get around 5 of them to jump ship immediately on a trial basis. Deputy Chief Minister Laxman Savadi also made similar claims to mediapersons.

Sources in the state BJP claimed that the speculation will fade away as none can afford a crisis during the Covid-19 outbreak. They said that pressure tactics do not work all the time.

But with Karnataka's dubious record of political instability engineered by defections, it would be early to write-off the latest threat that is brewing for the Karnataka Chief Minister.