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K’taka dissident’s choice Shettar in Delhi
Published on 31 Oct. 2009 11:02 PM IST
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Karnataka Speaker Jagadish Shettar flew to Delhi Saturday evening for talks with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) central leaders over the dissidents’ demand for removing B.S. Yedddyurappa as chief minister of the state. Shettar, 53, has emerged as the choice of the rebel ministers and legislators to replace Yeddyurappa, who became BJP’s first chief minister in Karnataka and south India, in May 2008. Four-term legislator Shettar came to BJP after being a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the party’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). A lawyer by profession, Shettar was keen to be a minister in 2008 but was persuaded by the party’s central leaders to take up the speaker’s post. Shettar, a prominent BJP leader from party stronghold north Karnataka, saw the denial of ministerial berth as a move by Yeddyurappa to cut him down politically. He is being propped up by dissident ministers led by G. Janardhana Reddy (Tourism) and his elder brother G. Karunakara Reddy (Revenue) and their loyalist B. Sriramulu (Health). The party’s central leaders are expected to convince Shettar against siding with the dissidents and persuade him to accept a prominent cabinet position. Yeddyurappa announced Saturday that Shettar would be made a minister soon. The chief minister was talking to reporters in Puttur in Dakshina Kannada, about 350 km from here, on his way to Kukke Subramanya temple nearby. “There were some problems when our ministry was formed in taking Shettar. The central leadership also wanted him to be speaker. Now the central leadership has approved making him a minister,” Yeddyurappa said. However dissidents were not willing to give up their battle yet. Sriramulu claimed in Bangalore Saturday they have the support of 60 of the 117 BJP legislators. This is contested by Yeddyurappa loyalists. Labour minister B.N. Bachchegowda released a list of 83 legislators backing Yeddyurappa’s continuation as chief minister. “They (the rival camp) do not have the numbers they are claiming. Many of them are being forcibly held. Others are being lured with inducements. Many in the other camp have informed us they are with us and Yeddyurappa,” Bachchegowda, who joined BJP from Janata Dal-Secular ahead of the May 2008 assembly polls, told reporters. The dissident ministers and legislators are also expected to be in Delhi later Saturday or Sunday as advised by senior leader Arun Jaitley. Jaitley failed to quell the rebellion after three days of talks with rival camps. He returned to Delhi Friday asking the rival groups to come there for further talks. In related developments, the lone woman BJP Lok Sabha MP from the state lashed out at the lone woman minister in the Yeddyurappa ministry and said she has to resign immediately in the interests of the party. J. Shantha, representing Bellary and sister of Health minister and dissident leader Sriramulu, said Shobha Karnadlaje, Panchayat Raj minister, was behaving as if she was the second chief minister. She has been interfering in the functioning of all the ministries and this was mainly responsible for the party’s current troubles, Shantha told reporters in Bellary, around 400 km from here. Almost as an afterthought Shanta also said “there should be change in the leadership”, a reference to the demand for removal of Yeddyurappa.

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