The truce between the warring factions of the Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed its first political victim when the controversial woman minister Shobha Karandlaje, a confidante of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, was forced to resign under pressure from rebels.
The 45-year-old Panchayat Raj Minister tendered her resignation which was immediately accepted by Yeddyurappa, who had late on Monday night said there was no question of removal of any minister. But this morning, he backtracked to say that the core committee to be constituted to monitor the party affairs will decide which ministers were to be removed. The only woman member of the cabinet and the first-time MLA from Yeshwantpur constituency in Bengaluru, Karandlaje was the target of dissident MLAs, led by the Reddy brothers, who had attacked her for her being accorded prominence by the chief minister. They also charged her with "interfering" with the functioning of other ministries.
"Shobha Karandlaje tendered her resignation on Monday and the chief minister has accepted it and forwarded it to the Governor", said the Chief Minister's Secretariat. Earlier on Friday, the chief minister had shunted out his Principal Secretary V P Baligar to industry department under pressure from the dissidents. Karandlaje's resignation came a day after the the chief minister and dissident leader Transport Minister G Janardhana Reddy arrived at a compromise in the presence of senior leader L K Advani to end the fortnight-old open bickering.
Along with his elder brother and Revenue Minister G Karuakar Reddy, Janardhana and other rebels had demanded the removal of Yeddyurappa. In the midst of the crisis, Yeddyurappa on Saturday broke down during a television interview that he had "ditched" those who trusted him whether it was "Shobha or Baligar. I think even God will not forgive me".
This morning the chief minister said it has not been decided who are the ministers to be dropped from the ministry. "All these issues would be discussed at the core committee meeting," he said. The meeting of the core committee, likely to be constituted in a couple of days, is expected to be attended by senior leader Sushma Swaraj, who evolved the compromise formula and party general secretary Anant Kumar.
"All important issues will be debated at the core committee meeting and decisions taken. It will certainly lighten my burden," Yeddyurappa said, after his talks with some of his ministerial colleagues to gear up the administrative machinery, which had come under the shadow of dissidence.
Replying to a question, Yeddyurappa declared, "I will continue as chief minister for five years. Those who projected me as chief minister during the last year's Assembly polls, want my continuance for the full five-year term". Yeddyurappa, a prominent leader of the numerically strong Lingayat community, who played a key role in ensuring formation of the first BJP government in the South, said "I will not allow this thing to recur. A chief minister should adopt qualities of forgiveness. I will do that". "You will see a different Yeddyurappa. Now I am extremely happy," he said, rejecting suggestions that the compromise had weakened him. In fact, I have gained more strength than ever before".