Buzz of BJP rebels returning to party grips Bangalore


Bangalore: Bangalore was abuzz Wednesday evening with an “alert” that 11 rebel legislators of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were returning to the party fold, three weeks after creating a major crisis for the party’s first government in the state.

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An SMS from an aide of mining baron and state Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy alerted the media around 4.30 p.m. about a ‘programme’ at the party office later in the day at which the rebels would tender an apology to state party chief K.S. Eshwarappa.

The 11 rebels have been disqualified from the assembly for expressing lack of confidence in Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Oct 6. Their appeal against disqualification is pending in the Karnataka High Court.

Mediapersons rushed to the party office in Malleshwaram in south Bangalore after the alert, but there was no sign of any of the rebels even after an hour of waiting.

Another SMS informed the mediapersons that “talks” were still on and “inconvenience for delay is regretted”.

The SMS did not mention who was holding talks with the rebels, though speculation was that Janardhana Reddy was persuading the rebels to apologise and return to the party fold.

The ‘alert’ from Reddy’s aide was unexpected as both Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa had repeatedly said there was no question of taking back the rebels.

As mediapersons waited impatiently for the rebels to turn up, the talk inevitably focused on the possible reasons for the ‘delay’.

A dominant theory that made rounds among media circles was that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from which BJP often seeks guidance on party management, had opposed taking back the rebels.

The RSS, it was said, felt that the rebels had deeply hurt the party that prides itself as disciplined, and taking them back would only further erode the party’s image.

Finally around 6.30 p.m., nearly two hours after the ‘alert’, another SMS from Reddy’s aide said “the programme has been cancelled and inconvenience regretted”.

Along with the 11 BJP rebels, five Independent lawmakers were also disqualified from the assembly as they too had expressed lack of confidence in Yeddyurappa. Four of them were ministers when they rebelled against Yeddyurappa.

The Independents have also moved the high court against their disqualification and their plea will be heard Nov 2.

Following the revolt, Yeddyurappa twice won the trust vote in the assembly, first by voice vote on Oct 11 amid bedlam, and second on Oct 14 by 106 votes in his favour and 100 against.