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Power struggle in Karnataka BJP worsens

By Vicky Nanjappa
Last updated on: October 29, 2009 15:57 IST
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The crisis in the Bharatiya Janata Party's Karnataka unit appears to be worsening. The latest development in ongoing power struggle is that Bellary-based mining tycoons, Toursim Minister G Janardhana Reddy and Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy have left for Hyderabad with 15 MLAs in a bid to shield them from being wooed by the B S Yeddyurappa camp.

In another development, 5 MLAs of the BJP from the North Karnataka belt met with senior leader, Jagdish Shettar and urged him to lead the rebels against Yeddyurappa. However Shettar has remained non-committal on the issue. When questioned whether he would meet with Yeddyurappa and patch up with him, he made it clear that it was not an option. "I will speak only with Arun Jaitley and make my stand clear," Shettar said.

The rebel faction within the BJP sees Shettar as a potential replacement for Yeddyurappa. Demands to make Shettar the chief minister have existed since the BJP came to power in Karnataka in 2008. Attempts are also being made to get in touch with Janardhan Reddy who is camping with 15 MLA's in Hyderabad.

Sources to close to the Reddy faction
told that Janardhan Reddy is trying to protect his flock against being wooed by the CM and will return to Bengaluru only when all their demands were met.

Meanwhile, Arun Jaitley is expected to have several rounds of talks with party men later on Thursday. Apart from meeting with CM Yeddyurappa, Jaitley would also hold meetings with Shettar and some members of the Reddy faction. However the party high command has made it clear that talks cannot be successful unless Janardhan Reddy come to Bengaluru and makes his stand on the issue clear.

During Tuesday's meeting between Jaitley and the Reddy brothers, the former had made it clear that there would not be a change in leadership. Jaitley also instructed the Reddy faction not to comment openly on the issue until it was resolved. Revenue minister, Karunakar Reddy after the meeting had said that he did not wish to speak about politics for another ten days. The CM during his meeting with Jaitley had urged him to rein in the Reddy brothers and also direct them not to mix politics and business.

Senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar is also flying down from Delhi to Bengaluru to take part in the negotiation process along with Jaitley.

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Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru