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Eight Karnataka ministers quit, demand chief minister's ouster

Friday June 29, 2012 10:45:48 PM, IANS

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Bangalore: In fresh trouble for Karnataka's BJP government, eight ministers, loyal to scam-hit former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, quit Friday to pressure the party leadership to remove Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda. Two more are likely to follow suit.

The ministers are Jagadish Shettar (rural development), C.M. Udasi(public works), Murugesh Nirani (industries), V. Somanna (housing), Umesh Katti (agriculture), Basavaraj Bommai (water resources), Revu Naik Belamagi (libraries and animal husbandry), and M.P. Renukacharya (excise).

Gowda received the resignation letters and told the ministers that the decision on them will be taken by the party high command, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sources said.

Two more Yeddyurappa loyalist ministers, Shobha Karandlaje (power) and Raju Gowda (small scale industries), are also expected to meet Gowda later and submit their resignations.

In New Delhi, BJP general secretary in charge of Karnataka affairs Dharmendra Pradhan said, "The leadership is in touch with all important Karnataka leaders".

"We are hopeful the crisis will be resolved soon," he said.

In Bangalore, Udasi justified the move to quit the ministry. "For several months there were differences between the chief minister and several ministers. Since there was no resolution of this issue, we have quit."

"We waited all these days for decision of our high command. We cannot wait any longer," he said after the eight met Gowda here and gave him the letters of resignation.

"Our demand is to make Jagadish Shettar the chief minister. We are hopeful that the party leaders will accept it," added Udasi.

If the BJP high command does not act on the resignation letters, several lawmakers loyal to Yeddyurappa may also quit to keep the pressure up for Gowda's removal.

"Next step is resignation by legislators loyal to Yeddyurappa," B.P. Harish, a staunch follower of the former chief minister, told reporters.

The eight ministers and several lawmakers met Yeddyurappa late Friday to decide their next steps in their campaign for leadership change in the state.

The Karnataka development is bound to severely embarrass the BJP as it comes ahead of next month's presidential poll, where the party is backing former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma against the ruling United Progressive Alliance candidate, former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The party may be left red-faced if it does not solve the crisis before the voting scheduled for July 19 as there is every possibility of the dissidents in Karnataka voting for Mukherjee.

Early this month the BJP was left embarrassed as 12 party lawmakers voted for an Independent candidate in the polls to the legislative council.

Yeddyurappa and his group are pushing for Shettar to replace Gowda. This strategy was adopted after Yeddyurappa failed to convince BJP national leaders to again make him the chief minister, in spite of around a dozen corruption and illegal cases against him in Karnataka courts.

He lost all hopes after the Central Bureau of Investigation started its probe into mining bribery charges against him on the direction of the Supreme Court.

The BJP came to power for the first time in Karnataka in May 2008 with Yeddyurappa as chief minister. He quit July last year over mining bribery charges and Gowda took over Aug 4.

The four-year BJP rule has been marred by scams and dissidence. Around 20 of the 120 BJP lawmakers, including Yeddyurappa, in the 225-member assembly, are fighting corruption and illegal land deal cases.

Assembly elections are due May next year. There is speculation that the polls may be advanced to December this year in view of the unending problems faced by the ruling BJP.



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