Karnataka leaders angry over loyalists being ignored


Bangalore : Ministerial aspirants from within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka Tuesday mounted pressure on the state leaders for a cabinet berth in the shuffle slated for Wednesday, with some blasting the party for ignoring loyal workers.

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“Only ‘lafangeys’ (loafers) and land grabbers have a place in this party and not honest workers,” a four-time BJP legislator from Mysore, H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda, said after Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyyurappa told him he was helpless and could not make him a minister.

“He told me he was helpless and pained because he could not make me a minister. But what about me, I have won four times but newcomers are getting preference in the party,” a fuming Gowda told reporters after the meeting.

“Only ‘lafangeys’ and land grabbers have a place in this party,” he repeated.

The legislator said he would decide the next course of action after talking to his supporters.

A group of senior citizens from Mysore Monday staged a demonstration outside Yeddyurappa’s residence, demanding a cabinet berth for Gowda.

Another aspirant, C.T. Ravi, a legislator form Chikmagalur, is reported to have submitted his resignation from the assembly to state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa on learning that he was not being included in the 28-month-old ministry.

His supporters in the Chikmagalur civic body waited outside Eshwarappa’s residence to submit their resignations, protesting Ravi being denied a cabinet berth.

Supporters of Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Goolihatti Shekar, who Monday threatened suicide if he was dropped from the ministry, met powerful mining baron and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy, demanding he be retained in the ministry.

Karunakara Reddy, like his brother and Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy, assured the supporters that there was no question of Shekar being axed as he and four other Independents had helped the BJP to assume power for the first time in Karnataka and south India in 2008.

All the five Independents were rewarded with ministerial posts for their support.

Janardhana Reddy said Monday: “The party will not leave in the lurch those who had helped it in time of need.”

There was some relief for Yeddyurappa with 20 legislators supporting Belur Gopalakrishna, assembly member from Shimoga, for ministership, dropping plans to quit the assembly.

Excise Minister M.P. Renukacharya told reporters after meeting Gopalakrishna and his supporters that none of them was resigning.

Gopalakrishna threatened that if he was not made the minister, 20 legislators would meet the governor Tuesday and submit their resignation from the assembly.

The cabinet shuffle will take place at 9.30 a.m. Wednesday, Yeddyurappa told reporters as he met the legislators and their supporters in groups to win their backing for his plan.

Karnataka can have a 34-member ministry, inclusive of chief minister.

There are three vacancies.

“How many will be included and their names will be out Tuesday evening,” Yeddyurappa said.