Former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa’s soon to be launched Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) is already causing ripples in northern Karnataka. A large number of his loyalists from the region, the bastion of Yeddyurappa’s Veerashaiva votebank, are expected to join the party in the coming days.
However, most of the MLAs from Bangalore have failed his ‘loyalty test’ as most of the city MLAs, who were in his camp till recently, have started playing safe by distancing themselves from the former chief minister.
Out of the 28 assembly constituencies in Bangalore, BJP MLAs are representing 17. Until recently, a majority of these legislators and even ministers like V Somanna, Shobha Karandlaje and R Ashoka used to make their presence felt in any meeting convened by Yeddyurappa. But thanks to political realities of Bangalore city and caste calculations, the ‘loyalists’ have switched their loyalties.
BJP MLA from Yelahanka SR Vishwananth along with NS Nandish Reddy of KR Puram constituency have quietly distanced themselves from the Yeddyurappa camp. As of now, except for Chickpet MLA Hemachandra Sagar, there is no guarantee of any other BJP MLA joining the KJP bandwagon.
The deafening silence of Yeddyurappa loyalist energy minister Shobha Karandlaje and the sudden change in housing minister Somanna’s tone is causing anxiety in the Yeddyurappa camp. Shobha belongs to the Vokkaliga community, which is being seen as the real rival by the politically conscious Veerashaiva community after HD Kumaraswamy’s betrayal of Yeddyurappa in 2007.
Somanna, like Yeddyurappa, belongs to the Veerashaiva community. However, the ground realities in Bangalore in terms of caste calculations and civic issues including the garbage crisis in the city seems to have forced Somanna to have a rethink on his future plans.
While Shobha continues to dodge any questions about party politics, KJP state president Dhananjay Kumar tried to maintain a brave front. “As of now MLAs Hemachandra Sagar and M Srinivas are sure bets to join KJP. We have no doubt about Shobha getting a prominent position in the KJP. We are also confident that Somanna will join us,” Kumar said.
When asked about MLAs like Vishwananth moving away from Yeddyurappa, he stated that Vishwanath had expressed his desire to join KJP at a later stage.
“Those who remain in the BJP will realise their blunder after the assembly polls. After the total failure in handling the garbage mess, none of the BJP MLAs and ministers in Bangalore will get elected,” Kumar said.
According to sources, Shobha is still weighing her options as any move to join the KJP would almost force her to move out of Yeshwantpur constituency in Bangalore to any safe constituency in northern Karnataka, where Yeddyurappa has an unassailable influence, to ensure her victory.