Sour BJP veterans explore Congress option

Upset with being sidelined, Katti, Nirani and others could jump ship if DK Shivakumar is made KPCC president

Published: 23rd January 2020 05:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd January 2020 05:55 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BELAGAVI: The BS Yediyurappa government is expected to land in some serious trouble if it fails to accommodate some of its senior and popular legislators in the cabinet, besides the new MLAs. Several disgruntled BJP legislators,

including Umesh Katti and Murugesh Nirani, upset over the elevation of inexperienced leaders as deputy CMs and cabinet ministers, have already issued a veiled threat to the party and are waiting, fingers crossed, to see whether the party picks them during the upcoming cabinet expansion.

Some of the BJP’s disgruntled veterans are reportedly in touch with the Congress party’s top leadership and also DK Shivakumar, upset over being sidelined by their party, sources said. If the sources are to be believed, some of them could even switch to the Congress if Shivakumar is appointed Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president. However, none of the BJP legislators have so far openly admitted to this plan, but party sources revealed that they are, indeed, exploring the option.

Umesh Katti took serious exception to the elevation of inexperienced leaders, and told TNIE that the party could court trouble by giving key positions to inexperienced leaders. He said he had no objection if “experienced and able leaders” were inducted into the cabinet and given the post of DyCM. “I have been a minister in multiple cabinets and wouldn’t claim a cabinet berth for myself. But other deserving legislators should get what they deserve,’’ he added.

It may be recalled that Shivakumar had stated, a few months ago, that about 20 BJP legislators were in touch with the Congress leadership. Just ahead of the bypolls, the Congress had also roped in four-time BJP MLA Raju Kage and fielded him from Kagwad. 

Katti and Nirani are already lobbying for cabinet positions and building pressure on the BJP. Katti had met Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa for three to four days in a row in Bengaluru recently when news of cabinet expansion was in the air. Recently, Lingayat seer Vachanananda had lobbied for Nirani, and almost threatened Yediyurappa, at a programme attended by the CM, Home Minister Bommai and several party leaders. The seer had warned that the Panchamsali-Lingayat community, to which Nirani belongs, could abandon Yediyurappa if he failed to give the sugar baron a berth. Nirani did not utter a word when Yediyurappa objected to the seer’s open threat.

How Yediyurappa tackles the crisis, especially with the top BJP leadership not so keen on inducting the recently-elected MLAs, or seniors like Katti and Nirani into the cabinet, promises to be a gripping drama.

Jarkiholi lobbies for aide Kumathalli Belagavi: In the backdrop of BJP’s changing stand on having all the new MLAs in the cabinet, Ramesh Jarkiholi is pressuring the party leadership to include his confidant and Athani MLA Mahesh Kumathalli into the state cabinet. It was only Kumathalli who had stood firm with Jarkiholi all through the long-drawn Operation Lotus, and now, Jarkiholi is lobbying hard for Kumathalli, though the BJP is keen to appoint him chairman of a board or corporation. Sources say Jarkiholi wants the cooperatives' portfolio for Kumathalli to stop DyCM Laxman Savadi from dominating the thriving cooperative sector in Belagavi. 


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