BJP sacks Karnataka minister, suspends MP to hit at Yeddyurappa
The ruling BJP in Karnataka Saturday sacked Cooperation Minister B.J. Puttaswamy from the cabinet and suspended Lok Sabha member G.S. Basavaraj from the party, in a bid to deter its ministers and legislators from flocking to its former leader B.S. Yeddyurapapa.
The action came a day ahead of Yeddyurappa formally launching his Karnataka Janata Party at a public meeting in Haveri, about 350 km north of Bangalore. He quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and assembly Nov 30.
The disciplinary action against the two light-weight BJP members was announced here by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa after a meeting with party chief Nitin Gadkari late Friday.
Basavaraj is a former Congressman. He joined BJP before the last Lok Sabha election in 2009 and represents Tumkur, about 70 km from Bangalore. Puttaswamy, who is a member of the legislative council, is a former Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) activist.
Both are staunch followers of Yeddyurappa and have often been attacking both state and central BJP leadership.
Apparently BJP hopes the action against the two will prevent other Yedyurappa loyalists from attending the Haveri rally and thus save the Shettar government.
The party has refrained from taking any action against five assembly members, four legislative council members and one more Lok Sabha member, B.Y. Raghavendra, who have actively helping Yeddyurappa in organizing the Haveri show.
Raghavendra is son of Yeddyurappa.
Reacting to the action, Yeddyurappa told reporters in Haveri that end of the BJP government in Karnataka was near.
He dared his former party to dissolve the assembly and face people instead of taking action against his supporters in the party.
The assembly's term expires May next.
Though Yeddyuappa has been saying that he has not invited any minister or legislator to attend the Haveri rally, his supporters have been making efforts to get many of them to attend a breakfast meeting in Haveri as a strategy to show the former chief minister's hold in the party.
The BJP has warned that it will take action against even those attending breakfast or tea parties hosted by Yeddyurappa supporters in Haveri Sunday.
The BJP has a slender majority in the 225-member assembly. The party has 118 members including the speaker. It has the support of an Independent who has been rewarded with a cabinet post.
The Congress has 71, the JD-S 26 while there are six other Independents. One is a nominated member while two seats are vacant.
Eshwarappa and former chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda have been saying that BJP is ready to sacrifice its government to maintain discipline in the party.
The fate of the Shettar ministry, which took office in July this year, depends on whether Yeddyurappa's supporters in BJP will ignore the warnings and Saturday's action against not-so-prominent party members and attend the Haveri show Sunday.