Bengaluru: In a major political development in Karnataka, Rural Development Minister KS Eshwarappa, a senior BJP leader and once the deputy CM, Wednesday lodged a complaint against Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa with Governor Vajubhai Vala. In his complaint, he said the Chief Minister was interfering in various departments in order to favour his kin. Citing examples, Eshwarappa claimed that the CM has violated multiple rules and procedures on more than one occasion in sanctioning department funds.
The letter has brought forth the rift in the state unit of the BJP once more.
In his letter, Eshwarappa said he had tried to address this matter internally with the CM regarding allocation of funds. However, his complaints were not looked into. These “lapses” by the CM had been communicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Home Minister Amit Shah as well, he said.
Eshwarappa seems to have struck when the iron is hot as Yediyurappa is facing fire from within the Lingayat community of which he is thought to be an undisputed leader.
“I am at pains, to bring to your kind notice, some of the recent actions of our Respected Chief Minister relating to my Department, which amounts to direct interference in the affairs of Ministers in-charge of Departments, in clear violation of Karnataka (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1977 and also against the established practices and procedures relating to the affairs of the State Administration,” the senior minister said in his letter. He quoted several provisions of the Karnataka Government (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1977 to prove his point.
Eshwarappa pointed out that the President of Bengaluru Urban Zilla Panchayat is a close relative of the CM. While a list of proposed civil works in the ZP was due for clearance, Yediyurappa sanctioned those plans in violation of Panchayati Raj Act and Karnataka (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1977.
“It is highly unfortunate that the Hon’ble Chief Minister knowingly issued such orders ignoring the Minister-in-charge of the department. If this trend continues in future - bypassing the Minister and violating the rules, I do not know where I stand as a Minister-in-charge of the Department," he said,
The rivalry between Yediyurappa and Eshwarappa is well known and dates back to when the two leaders fought over dominance of Shivamogga – the district from which both of them hail. Yediyurappa, who won that round, went on to become BJP’s first CM in Karnataka. But in 2009-10, when Yediyurappa was facing political attacks from many quarters of his own party, Eshwarappa who was a cabinet colleague, was one of the most vocal opponents.
Their animosity came out in public during 2016 over Eshwarappa being sidelined for the party’s state vice-president position while Yediyurappa was the state president.
Eshwarappa, who intends to be a force from within the BJP, later on set up the Sangolli Rayanna Brigade -- a parallel outfit to unite Daits under the party fold which was considered to be largely a Congress vote bank. Eshwarappa was unhappy as Yediyurappa was appointing those who had quit the BJP along with him in 2013 while ignoring BJP loyalists like him.
However, Amit Shah, who was then the party national president, intervened and called for a truce and Eshwarappa was given the position of President of the BJP’s OBC Morcha.