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Karnataka: Dissent haunts new BJP government
Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | June 02, 2008 20:24 IST
It has only been a few days since the Bharatiya Janata Party formed the new government in Karnataka amid much fanfare, but dissent among party workers has already started affecting the party.
The exclusion of senior leader Jagadish Shettar, from the Cabinet in the newly formed government, has not been taken kindly by his supporters. They have vandalised public property, boycotted courts in northern Karnataka and are planning to meet top BJP leaders in New Delhi to discuss the issue.
Shettar, a senior leader in the BJP who belongs to the Lingayat community, was offered the post of Speaker in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. His supporters feel that Shettar was denied a post in the Cabinet as he is seen as a threat to Yeddyurappa. However, Yeddyurappa denies these allegations and maintains that the decision was taken by the party high command.
Shettar has now been summoned to New Delhi to work out a compromise formula. Before leaving for Delhi, Shettar said that he would prefer being a Member of the Legislative Assembly rather than take up the Speaker's post.
Shettar, who wants to work for the development of northern Karnataka, feels that he can do so better only if he is a minister. He feels that he would be restricted to administrative responsibilities if he becomes the Speaker and over a period of time, he will be forgotten in his constituency.
The senior BJP leader added that there was no question of him quitting the party and he would continue to work as an MLA. Shettar also dismissed speculations about Yeddyurappa sidelining him, as he could be a prospective threat to the CM.
However, despite Shettar's assurance that he would not leave the party, the BJP is taking no chances, as it cannot afford a split within the party.
Interestingly, there is a superstitious fact attached to the post of the Speaker in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. Since 1956, Karnataka has had 12 speakers and only three of them have won the elections, which were held after the House was dissolved. Barring S M Krishna, the rest have found it very difficult to return to active politics and their careers have taken a beating after the loss.
Shettar's supporters say that this thought is also haunting the leader, who feels that taking up the Speaker's position may affect his political future.