Karnataka Janata Party launched at a mega rally in Haveri

The BJP Government in Karnataka faced the threat of instability after 13 MLAs, defying the party, threw their lot behind former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who formally launched his Karnataka Janata Party at a mega rally here today.

Thirteen loyalist MLAs of Yeddyurappa, who quit the BJP ten days ago, shared the dais with him in an open defiance, putting the ruling BJP in a quandary as it had warned of action if the legislators participated in today’s rally or associated themselves with its former State strongman.

Show of strength

Addressing the rally, a show of strength, a combative Yeddyurappa slammed Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and threw down the gauntlet at him to seek a fresh mandate.

“Shettar said action will be taken against legislators if they participated in today’s rally. The government has no majority now. You are in Chief Minister’s chair because of the support of Yeddyurappa. If you have the guts, dissolve the Assembly and seek fresh mandate,” Yeddyurappa said.

The participation of these MLAs, including H. Halappa, Nehru Olekar, B.P. Harish, C.C. Patil and Sunil Valyapure, who tendered his resignation yesterday as Infrastructure Development Minister, is seen as a big blow to the Government.

Seeking to put up a brave face, Shettar ruled out his resignation and asserted that he still commanded majority.

He, however, said action would be taken against those who defied the party directive and participated in Yeddyurappa’s rally. “There is no question of tolerating indiscipline,” he said.

Breakfast politics

In another sign of potential trouble for the five-month-old Shettar government, at a breakfast hosted by MLC Shivaraj Sajjan here, at least 21 MLAs, seven MLCs and four Lok Sabha members met Yeddyurappa.

Seven Ministers, including Basavaraja Bommai, C.M. Udasi, Murugesh Nirani and Shobha Karandlaje, were among those present at this meeting. But they, except Valyapure, skipped the rally, apparently to avoid the wrath of the party.

Sending a warning to Yeddyurappa’s loyalists, Shettar had yesterday sacked his trusted lieutenant B.J. Puttaswamy from the Ministry while the party suspended Tumkur MP G.S. Basavaraju.

But the number at the breakfast meeting has disappointed Yeddyurappa, who expected more than 40 MLAs to turn up, according to sources in the Karnataka Janata Party, reins of which he took over today at the rally, becoming its President.

In the 224-member Assembly, BJP has a strength of 118, Congress 71, JDS 26, Independents seven and two vacancies.

(This article was published on December 9, 2012)
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