Updated: May 13, 2021 8:45:16 am
The rumours had gained fresh currency following a dash to New Delhi by Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and Yediyurappa’s son B Y Vijayendra on May 7 to meet Amit Shah. On Tuesday, BJP organising secretary B L Santosh met Yediyurappa.
Bommai, considered a possible replacement for Yediyurappa, said, “I want to state very clearly that there was no political motive behind the visit to Delhi. During the Covid-19 crisis there is no question of thinking about anything other than the Covid-19 situation.”
Kateel, who met Yediyurappa on Monday, also said they were only thinking about Covid-19 at present. “The focus of the party, MLAs and ministers is the crisis. This is not the time for politics,” he said.
Yediyurappa said the meeting with Santosh was to discuss the corona situation. “He said that all the help needed from Delhi will be provided.”
The talk of replacing Yediyurappa, 78, has been around for a while, with the veteran Lingayat leader pipping others to the post despite the BJP’s unspoken age limit of 75 for its leaders for political posts. Two months ago, there had been hints from the BJP that Yediyurappa might be replaced after the results of the Assembly polls on May 2.
Yediyurappa was said to be in favour of Bommai, a fellow Lingayat, as his replacement, with his younger son being given a governance role. However, the central leadership was reported to favour Union minister Pralhad Joshi. A senior state minister, K S Eshwarappa, had even openly criticised the functioning of Yediyurappa in letters to the Governor and BJP central leadership.
In recent days, the Yediyurappa government has been criticised over its handling of the Covid crisis, with Karnataka recording over 45,000 cases and 500 deaths on an average daily.
Bommai said Delhi had not expressed any displeasure at the handling of the Covid situation in Karnataka. “They however said the numbers must be controlled.”
Lately, Yediyurappa had also come under party scrutiny over the Cabinet decision on April 26 to sell 3,667 acres in the Bellary region to steel major JSW Steel — a move that had been opposed by the BJP when in opposition — at the 2005 prices of Rs 1.2 lakh per acre rather than the estimated current market rate of Rs 1 crore. The move came amidst the Covid crisis, with JSW a major oxygen supplier to the state.
Questioning the deal, Anand Singh, the BJP’s district in-charge minister for Bellary, pointed out that Yediyurappa was part of the protest against the deal when the Congress-JD(S) was in government.
Defending the deal, Bommai said that the sale was as per agreements signed in 2006 and 2007, and was given the go-ahead after legal hurdles ended in January this year.
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