BELAGAVI/BENGALURU: On a day when Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa was tied up in a series of meetings and discussions on the battle against Covid-19, there was a disconcerting development -- dissidence in the ranks. A section of Lingayat MLAs from the BJP is contemplating revolt over the party’s neglect of MLA Umesh Katti and his brother Ramesh Katti. After the MLAs from North Karnataka met in Bengaluru, the Katti brothers issued an ultimatum to the party, demanding a Rajya Sabha ticket for Ramesh and a cabinet berth for Umesh.
Party MLAs from Belagavi, Dharwad, Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Gadag, Haveri and other parts of North Karnataka said at the meeting that the party must nominate Ramesh Katti to the Rajya Sabha, instead of Prabhakar Kore. Several MLAs also condemned the way the party was neglecting popular Lingayat MLAs like Murugesh Nirani and Basanagouda Yatnal, and demanded the immediate induction of Umesh into the state cabinet.
The meeting also deplored the denial of a Lok Sabha ticket to Ramesh Katti in 2019, despite him losing the 2014 Lok Sabha election by a mere 3,000 votes from Chikkodi. Umesh told TNIE that the BJP was not responding to its MLAs and that he was totally sidelined, despite being an eight-term MLA and former minister. The Katti brothers claimed that at least 24 MLAs are with them. The meeting discussed how Yediyurappa and the BJP are promoting young and inexperienced leaders.
The brothers said they had joined the BJP only to support Yediyurappa as he is a Lingayat leader. Unfortunately, the party and Yediyurappa had failed to ensure justice for them. “If the party denies an RS ticket to me, all Lingayat MLAs of North Karnataka will announce their stand. Just wait and see,’’ added Ramesh. MP Prabhakar Kore is set to complete his Rajya Sabha term on June 25, and the Kattis want the party to take a call on the next candidate soon. The leaders also questioned the merit of all DCMs.
Yatnal said, “It is not about the leadership of Yediyurappa. He himself said he is a loyal foot soldier of the party, and his leaders are Modi, Shah and Nadda.” Yatnal said he was sure he will never be made minister as long as Yediyurappa is in charge.
‘Natural for those who are out’
State BJP in-charge general secretary Muralidhar Rao, responding to these developments, said, “The people who aren’t able to get inside do such things, it is natural. It is a time of stability for the BJP, and the image of CM Yediyurappa is good.” Asked about the council, where 16 seats fall vacant, he said, “We will decide about it.’’ On any special attempt made to reach out to the disgruntled member, he said, “They are BJP members and we have a regular feedback network within the party. They will not embarrass the party.’’