As mentioned earlier large parts of Northern Karnataka from where bulk of BJP’s 105 MLA’s come were devastated by unprecedented floods. While Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman - a Rajya Sabha member from the state - toured the areas, relief package was too little and too late in coming. While the state government asked for Rs 35,000 crore relief, the Centre released a paltry Rs 1200 crore after nearly two months of the floods and that too after much hue and cry even by the party supporters. Balachandra Jharkiholi, a BJP MLA upset at the pace of relief even threatened to topple his own party’s government.
The state BJP Yuva Morcha Vice President Bheemashankar Patil then wrote a letter to Kateel warning him of dire consequences if Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa (BSY) is either ignored or sidelined. Patil in the letter warned that the Lingayat vote as well as BJP’s future in 13 of the 30 districts in the state might be in jeopardy if BSY was overlooked. The letter reached the media even before it reached the party president.
The Congress and JDS have been sniping at each other ever since the coalition government fell. The Congress is vertically divided between old time ‘loyalists’ and the ‘interlopers’ led by Siddaramiah. The two factions had heated verbal exchanges in the presence of party’s Central leaders especially over who should lead the party in the legislature. The JDS has its own challenges with internal feud in the Gowda family and a section of legislators looking to cross-over to remain in power. The bypolls on December 5 for 15 seats where the BJP needs to win at least half of them to remain in power, will determine whether BSY continues his tight-rope walk or will the state be facing fresh polls within the next six months.
With the state treasury empty after the massive Rs 46,000 crore loan waiver scheme of the previous Kumaraswamy led Congress–JDS coalition government, the Yeddyurappa government has little room to maneuver, unless it receives a helping hand from the Centre. BSY lamented that he is being forced to do a ‘tight rope walk.’ With the winter session of the assembly starting from Thursday, the government and BJP’s only solace is that the opposition is even more hopelessly divided.
Kateel was forced to go and meet BSY with both of them subsequently claiming that there were no differences between them. Kateel also had to face the ignominy of even local party MLAs in Udupi district not turning up for a felicitation organized in his honour, indicating the deep divisions within the party.
It is rare in the new, post-2014, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) helmed by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah that party leaders publicly take on their own government. But that is exactly what has happened in Karnataka.
However his, is not an isolated instance. Internal dissensions continue to wreck the party. Former deputy Chief Minister Ashoka who is the current revenue minister did not even turn up for the swearing-in ceremony of the new state unit President Nalin Kumar Kateel despite being in the vicinity of the event.
It is also no secret that a number of senior leaders are unhappy at being ‘ignored.’ Seven term MLA Umesh Katti has warned that he would quit the party in case he is not accommodated in the next cabinet expansion. A number of factions around region and caste fault-lines have sprung up. The 17 disqualified MLAs from Congress and JDS - who helped BJP come to power - are disgruntled that their ‘services’ have not been recognized. They are also worried that there is no clarity whether they will get tickets for the bypolls now scheduled for December 5 despite public assurances by the CM.
Basanagouda Patil Yatnal a former Union Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet took on, no-less, than Prime Minister narendra Modi when he pointed out that while the PM tweeted his concern for Bihar flood victims, he had not uttered a word publicly after Karnataka had suffered devastating floods, much less visit the state. Yatnal went on to taunt the Modi, saying, maybe he did not care as there were no immediate polls in the state. He also lashed out at the three Union ministers from the state, asking them to try and get flood relief from the Centre instead of just shuffling around in the state. Yatnal now has been served a show cause notice by the party.