MYSORE: Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, who has frosty ties with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Wednesday praised Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda for doing good work. "Chief minister and some of his ministers are doing good work. But you know he is under pressure from vested interests," Bhardwaj, a veteran Congressman and former central law minister, told reporters in this city of palaces, about 130 km from Bangalore.
The praise for Gowda came in the context of raging dispute between Bhardwaj and the government and BJP over naming a new Lokayukta or ombudsman, a post vacant since Sep 19.
"The chief minister understands. He is busy. We will sort out the issue," the governor said, referring to his refusal to appoint former Kerala High Court Chief Justice S.R. Bannurmath, whose name has been sent by the government.
Bannurmath, believed to be former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa's choice, is caught in a row over building a house in Bangalore on a site meant for civic amenities.
"There is a Supreme Court ruling that only clean people known for integrity should be appointed. I will not appoint anyone without a clean image," Bhardwaj reiterated.
Gowda, who had been insisting on Bannurmath's appointment, had last month said that if the governor rejects it, then "we have to inevitably look for others".
However, he has again started taking the stand that he will try to convince Bhardwaj to appoint Bannurmath.
Bhardwaj's comment that "vested interests" were mounting pressure on Gowda to insist on Bannurmath' is certain to anger Yeddyurappa and his supporters who have mounted a campaign to reinstate the former chief minister.
Yeddyurappa at a meeting with a group of ministers and party legislators from Bangalore Monday reportedly slammed Gowda for not listening to him and acting independently.
He is believed to have told them that BJP will return to power in the next elections, due early next year, only if he leads the party. He is said to have asked the ministers and legislators to go to Delhi in batches to pressurise the central leaders.
Gowda was Yeddyurappa's choice to succeed him when he was forced to quit July 31 after the then Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde sought his trial for corruption in illegal mining scandal.
Yeddyurappa and his supporters have lately intensified pressure on BJP central leaders to officially declare him the sole leader of the state unit, if they are not willing to re-instate him by making Gowda quit.
Yeddyurappa has virtually set Jan 15 as the deadline for BJP leaders to decide. Otherwise, he plans to tour the state to show the leaders the support he enjoys among the people, perhaps as precursor to splitting the party.
One of his supporters, B. Suresh Gowda, legislator from Tumkur, about 70 km from Bangalore, Wednesday ticked off the central leaders.
"What do they know sitting in Delhi about the support Yeddyurappa enjoys. It is useless to give statements from Delhi. Let them come to the state and see for themselves," Suresh Gowda told reporters in Bangalore.
He is organising a public meeting in Tumkur Jan 19 as part of the bring-Yeddyurappa-back-plan. "We will gather 25,000 people and Yeddyurappa will address them," Suresh Gowda said.
Sadananda Gowda has left it to party central leaders to resolve the intensifying infighting in the state unit.
"There are some problems in the party. All of us know it. Our central leaders are seized of the matter. They will resolve it. All will end well," he told reporters in Mangalore, about 250 km from here.