BENGALURU/BELAGAVI : The exclusion of eight-time MLA Umesh Katti from the BS Yediyurappa cabinet seems to have put the BJP on the backfoot as the leader is in no mood to accept the decision without putting up a fight.
With several leaders of different parties calling Katti and urging him to quit the party, the BJP is now firefighting and has urged the senior leader to maintain restraint while assuring him of a cabinet post soon.
Speaking to TNIE, Katti said that this assurance had come from none other than BJP national working president JP Nadda. “He called on Thursday and said that the omission was a mistake,” Katti said. The sugar baron, who is a Banajiga Lingayat, said “Jagadish Shettar is a Banajiga Lingayat and there are too many. But I spoke to Yediyurappa and he said he would take me in the second round.” On the inclusion of a rank junior, Shashikala Jolle in the cabinet, Katti said that it was an RSS decision.
Meanwhile, he has been receiving calls from leaders of other parties. “Siddaramaiah spoke to me and asked me if they had made me a minister. Senior JDS leader Basavaraj Horatti called and said leave the BJP for the JDS,” Katti said, but ruled out joining the JDS. “All of us from North Karnataka are in BJP.’’ The JDs spoilt it for themselves.”
While the BJP’s efforts to broker peace might have worked for now, the issue is likely to heat up again if a decision is not taken soon. “I am not greedy, I am prepared to wait. They have decided to get back in around a week. I will wait,” he said adding that he would urge his supporters not to protest. But it might not be so easy for Yediyurappa to include Katti in his cabinet. The issue is serious enough to merit an intervention by the BJP top brass, even though they had earlier said that Yediyurappa would have to put out all fires himself.
Sources said that while the party was keen on inducting him, they were undecided on whether to include Balachandra Jarkiholi as well. With Laxman Savadi and Shashikala Jolle already in the cabinet, hailing from Belagavi district, the BJP leadership is in a dilemma on how to have four ministers from Belagavi in the cabinet.
Additionally, the BJP is also committed to induct disqualified MLAs Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathalli and Shrimant Patil once and if they get a clean chit from the courts. This could make the situation even more grim with some tough decisions becoming necessary.
Sources said the party was buying time from Katti only to test the waters to see the effect his exclusion would have in a few days. “After his long stint with Janata Party, it is difficult for a leader like Katti to survive or grow in a party like BJP,” said a top JDS leader. Katti has been offered the job of reorganising the JDS, however, he doesn’t seem interested, yet.