The leadership change in Karnataka BJP following the exit of B S Yediyurappa seems to have remained insufficient to consume the crisis faced by the party. The Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai-led government continues to face resistance from several disgruntled MLAs who have been aspiring for ministerial berths following the Cabinet reshuffle.
Unhappy turncoat MLAs continue to haunt the BJP government in the state following the portfolio allocation. After MTB Nagaraj, four-time MLA Anand Singh from Ballari region – who was appointed as the minister for tourism, ecology and environment – has gone public with his dissatisfaction, even dropping enough hints that he may quit over the portfolio allocated to him.
The rich mining businessman-turned-politician, who has been accused of illegal mining and forest crimes, is said to have his eyes on the Forest portfolio, which was given to him for a brief period during the tenure of Yediyurappa. His alternative demand is the Energy portfolio, which has been given to Sunil Kumar Karkala, a young BJP leader and first-time minister with RSS roots.
Singh shut down his MLA office in Hospete in Vijayanagara district and visited a temple built by his father, allegedly to show his displeasure and intent to quit.
Singh is one of the 17 Congress MLAs who helped topple the Congress-JD(S) government in 2019. Many of the defectors later became ministers in Yediyurappa’s cabinet in 2019.
Despite efforts by Chief Minister Bommai to convince him, Singh seemed intent on leaving the cabinet if he did not have his way. Yediyurappa organised a meeting with Singh Wednesday to convince the minister against quitting.
“This situation would not have arisen if Yediyurappa was the CM. It is true that I am unhappy,” the minister told reporters before meeting Yediyurappa with BJP MLA Raju Gouda. Singh also met Bommai late Wednesday evening.
NTB Nagaraju (MTB) was the first from the Bommai cabinet to publicly express his unhappiness over portfolio allocation. Taking to Twitter, he said he would soon take a call on his next move. Nagaraju, a former Congress MLA, was the Housing minister in the coalition government. He switched sides to BJP and contested the bypoll on a BJP ticket which he lost. He was made MLC and a minister by Yediyurappa. Although he had said he wanted a better portfolio, he was given the same portfolio along with Small Scale and Public Sector Industries.
R Shankar, another BJP MLA, also said he was seeking justice for the “sacrifice” he made for this government to come to power.
Meanwhile, Bommai said he was in touch with the disgruntled MLAs and that all is well. “Anand Singh is a friend of mine for the last 3 decades. We are in touch constantly. I spoke to him yesterday. Will talk again today. It will all be resolved once he comes and speaks,” said Bommai, denying that Singh has handed his resignation as MLA.
On the other hand, cabinet berth aspirants Ramesh Jarkiholi, CP Yogeshwar and Renukacharya, too, have made multiple trips to meet BJP leaders at the state and national level.