Updated: April 3, 2021 8:07:12 am
THE BJP’S Karnataka unit appeared to be in turmoil with senior state minister K S Eshwarappa writing to the Governor and the BJP central leadership, criticising the functioning of Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.
Eshwarappa, who is the state rural development and panchayat raj minister, has expressed deep resentment over Yediyurappa interfering in financial matters of his ministry without consultations and basically bypassing him while releasing funds worth crores for rural roads in the constituencies of a few legislators.
In his March 31 letter to Governor Vajubhai Vala, he cited several instances of “direct interference by the Chief Minister in the affairs of departments of other cabinet ministers in violation of The Karnataka (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1977”.
He cited instances such as the allocation of Rs 65 crore to the Bangalore Urban zilla panchayat, which is headed by G Mariswamy, a relative of Yediyurappa, for road development without clearance from his ministry despite the sanctioned amount for road development for the Bengaluru Urban zilla panchayat being Rs 1.17 crore.
K S Eshwarappa has had frequent disagreements with B S Yediyurappa over political issues only to quickly resolve them, largely because of the latter’s influence in Shivamogga district. Both leaders are from the same district. In 2012, when Yediyurappa broke away to float the KJP, Eshwarappa who was then the BJP state president remained with the party. Two years ago, both had a bitter fight over Eshwarappa’s efforts to carve out an OBC constituency for the BJP in his Kuruba community by creating a youth forum to commemorate the life of a community warrior.
“It is highly unfortunate that the Honble Chief Minister knowingly issued such orders ignoring the minister in-charge of the department. If this trend continues in the future – bypassing the minister and violating rules – I do not know where I stand as the minister in charge of the department,” Eshwarappa wrote.
He claimed to have brought the matter to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other senior leaders.
The BJP national leadership, however, appeared to be upset with the minister for writing to the Governor and making it public. According to a senior leader in Delhi, the party’s top leadership is viewing it as a serious act of indiscipline. “For whatever purpose Eshwarappa has done that, it has gone against him. It will not do any good to him. In fact, it is going to be a major loss for him,” said the senior party leader.
Sources in the Karnataka BJP said it has demotivated party workers as well. “Eshwarappa has not waited for the response of the party leadership – he raised the issue with the Prime Minister, party chief and even the Home Minister – nor has he consulted them before sending such a letter to the Governor,” said a source.
Sources said Yeddiyurappa has been meeting ministers and legislators to take their views on the issue. On Thursday, a number of MLAs and senior ministers rallied around Yediyurappa at an emergency meeting. Yeddiyurappa is believed to have spoken of sacking Eshwarappa at the meeting.
State Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who is a close associate of Yediyurappa, said after the meeting, “I request Eshwarappa to meet the CM and discuss this issue and solve it. Ours is a disciplined party… It is not appropriate to take this issue to the senior leaders of the party.”
The 72-year-old Eshwarappa, who is credited with building the BJP in the state along with Yediyurappa and the late H N Ananth Kumar, is considered to be one of the most hardcore adherents to the discipline regime inculcated in its cadre by the RSS – never stepping out of line without sanction from the top leaders.
On Friday, he said he remained a party loyalist, unlike Yediyurappa who broke away in 2012 to form his own outfit KJP. “He left the party to create the KJP and did not look back at us. He said he will not return to the BJP. I am a party loyalist and see the party as my mother,” Eshwarappa said, justifying his decision to write letters about the functioning of Yediyurappa as the CM. “This is not a personal issue between me and the CM but a question of established rules and systems. I am not being a rebel and the issues will be resolved.”
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