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BJP says Karnataka crisis over
Published on 9 Nov. 2009 1:02 AM IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sunday heaved a sigh of relief as it announced an end to the 14-day crisis in its Karnataka unit, triggered by dissidents demanding ouster of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. But it did not give out details of the understanding reached between the two factions. “The Karnataka issue has been resolved peacefully,” senior leader Sushma Swaraj announced at her residence in New Delhi in the presence of Yeddyurappa and dissident leader Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy. “After several days, all of you are seeing Yeddyurappa and Janardhana Reddy together,” she said. The dissident leader had refused to meet the chief minister for the last two weeks despite efforts by party central leaders. Yeddyurappa said: “There are no issues now. We will work together.” Janardhana Reddy said, “We have agreed to the word of ‘thayi’ (mother) Sushma Swaraj and will work together.” Yeddyurappa has agreed to several demands of the Reddys. He has already shunted out his principal secretary V.P. Baligar and agreed to drop his close associate and the lone woman minister Shobha Karandlaje, who holds rural development and panchayat raj portfolio. Yeddyurappa has also agreed to make assembly Speaker Jagadish Shettar, whom the dissidents were projecting as alternative leader, a cabinet minister. There was speculation that the Reddy brothers have demanded sacking of at least six other ministers to accommodate their supporters and secure plum portfolios like home, forests, mines and environment. Later, addressing another press meet at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi Yeddyurappa said, “The issue was not of who bent and who did not. Issue is not of victory or defeat. The question was one of duty”. After the announcement, Sushma Swaraj, Yeddyurappa and Janardhana Reddy went to senior party leader L.K. Advani’s house to greet him on his birthday. Yeddyurappa and Janardhana Reddy fed a piece of cake to each other in a show of camaraderie. Reddy loyalist and Health Minister B. Sriramulu, party general secretary and Bangalore South Lok Sabha member H.N. Ananth Kumar were present. The Yeddyurappa ministry was paralysed for the last two weeks with Janardhana Reddy and his elder brother and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy launching a campaign for his removal. After senior Arun Jaitley’s three-day effort in Bangalore in last week of October failed to resolve the dispute, Yeddyurappa and the Reddy brothers were called to New Delhi for talks with central leaders. Yeddyurappa was in Delhi since Wednesday while Janardhana Reddy stayed there from Tuesday to Friday and returned late Saturday after talks with ministers and legislators supporting him and his brother’s campaign to oust Yeddyurappa. These legislators and ministers were lodged in a luxury hotel in Hyderabad for nearly 10 days to prevent Yeddyurappa camp from weaning them away. The Reddys are rich iron ore mine owners and hence the reported keenness for Forests, Mines and Environment portfolios. Yeddyurappa, however, has maintained he would not drop any minister other than Shobha Karandlaje. In the May 2008 polls, the BJP won 110 of the 224 elected seats in the 225-member assembly. It formed the government with the help of six Independents, five of whom have been rewarded with ministerial posts. The Reddys are believed to have won over the Independents using their financial clout. Later, the Reddys also lured more than half a dozen Congress and Janata Dal-Secular legislators to the BJP, giving the party its majority in the assembly and reducing the government’s dependence on the Independents.

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