Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa (Image: Twitter @BSYBJP)
BJP national General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh on Friday warned of action against violation of party discipline as rumblings within played out in the open during his three day visit to the state, amid speculation about replacing Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.
Though Singh, who had earlier ruled out leadership change, did not make any direct comments on the issue, he is said to have made it clear at the Karnataka BJP core committee meeting that Yediyurappa will continue as the Chief Minister.
In a gesture signifying that things are in his favour, Yediyurappa, who did not make any comments on what transpired at the meeting on the leadership issue, flashed the victory sign as he departed from the state BJP office.
"The leadership issue was not discussed... Yediyurappa is our leader, there is no change in that. Our in-charge Arun Singh has asked me to make it clear," Revenue Minister and core committee member R Ashoka told reporters, briefing them about the meeting.
There was no question of replacing Yediyurappa, he said.
"The government will function under his (Yediyurappa) leadership. This is the clear stand," he said, adding that it has been decided to take strict action against those making open statements on the issue.
Yediyurappa earlier in the day had downplayed the dissidence against him as he ruled out any political crisis in the state. "There is no political crisis at all...what is happening is just because one or two people are saying something in the media, it is creating misunderstanding...these one or two people speaking against me is not new, they have been doing it since the beginning and it is getting highlighted," he said, pointing out that Singh did not even meet those involved in such activities.
"There is no confusion or crisis, we are all together and united, and are focusing on the development work. None of my cabinet colleagues are disturbed by any of these things...we will try and talk to those who are involved in such activities, and try to resolve things," he said.
Speculations have been rife for some time now that a section of the ruling BJP is trying to push for unseating Yediyurappa, despite Singh, party state President Nalin Kumar Kateel and other senior leaders ruling out replacing the Chief Minister and asserting that the 78 year-old Lingayat strong man will continue in the top post.
This is mainly because of repeated open statements by some disgruntled legislators against the functioning of the government and its leadership, party sources said. Aimed at putting an end to activities by some legislators that are causing embarrassment to the BJP and the government, the party is likely to take action against a few of them soon.
"Everyone should work together for the party... there are only two-three people (legislators) who are causing damage to the party and have hurt workers...definitely action will be taken against them at the right time... we will try to talk to them first and make them understand, action will also be taken if necessary," Singh said.
He said BJP is the world's largest party and has a goverment in the state.
Everyone has to follow discipline, he said, as he evaded questions on the leadership issue. Despite being warned not to make open statements, disgruntled BJP MLC A H Vishwanath today once again demanded Yediyurappas ouster and levelled allegations of corruption and interference in the administration against his younger son and party vice-president, B Y Vijayendra.
"The government has approved the Upper Bhadra Project worth over Rs 21,000 crore.Is there money with the government? This is being done just for kickbacks," he alleged.
Not willing to comment on Vishwanath's statements, Yediyurappa said the high command would decide on what action should be taken against him.
On the charge against his son and kickbacks in an irrigation project, the CM they were all baseless allegations, were being unnecessarily made and done for political reasons.
To add to this, charges of phone-tapping and conspiracy to fix him by Hubli-Dharwad West MLA Arvind Bellad,who is said to be from the faction seeking Yediyurappa's replacement, had caused further embarrassment to the party and the government.
However, Vijayapura MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and Tourism Minister C P Yogeshwar, who are also from the disgruntled group and had openly spoken against the government and Yediyurappa in the past, had maintained a low key during Singh's visit.
These allegations against the government and its leadership had also resulted in a slug fest between the camps in favour of Yediyurappa and those seeking his replacement, even as Singh held a series of meetings with party leaders. Singh had held meetings with Ministers and met 40-odd legislators individually from factions in favour of Yediyurappa, those against him and those seemingly neutral.
According to some BJP sources, he is likely to submit a report to the party's national leadership.
A few legislators believe the party may go in for a cabinet shuffle, as many of them have complained about a lack of social and regional balance in the Yediyurappa ministry.
Briefing reporters about the decisions of the core committee meeting, Ashoka said it was decided to improve the image of the government and the party in the state and have a proper coordination between the two.
He said the party would hold its state executive on June 26 in Bengaluru, organise district executives from July 1 to 15 and mandal executive meetings from July 16 to 31.