Karnataka's BJP in uncertain mode as assembly session nears

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 19, 2012 11:51 hrs

Bangalore: Will D.V. Sadananda Gowda remain chief minister and present a full budget for 2012-13; Will this be the last session of the assembly though it has one more year of term left; how will ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's factional fights play out in the session…? The list of questions grows as the Karnataka assembly session nears.

A constant question hurled at Gowda, who took over Aug 4 last year from corruption-hit B.S. Yeddyurappa, by the media in the last few weeks has been "how long will you remain chief minister and will you present the budget?"

The ever-smiling Gowda has not lost his cool over the continuing doubt on his survival in view of the increasingly bitter fight being put up by Yeddyurappa for getting back the chief minister's post.

"Do no have any doubt. I will present the budget," Gowda asserts.

Unfortunately the more he and the BJP central leaders insist that there is no question of leadership change in Karnataka, the stronger become the doubts about his continuance.

The short ten-day session begins March 20, and Gowda says he will present the budget the next day.

That is the day when attention of all political parties in Karnataka, particularly the pro and anti-Yeddyurappa factions in BJP, will be on the outcome of the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha bypoll.

Counting of votes polled March 18 in the bypoll caused by Gowda quitting the seat after becoming chief minister is on March 21.

If BJP retains the seat Gowda can breathe easy. Else he and BJP central leaders will be under tremendous pressure to bring Yeddyurappa back, forcing them to think of going for early assembly polls.

Since this scenario is very much possible, there is intense speculation that Gowda may not present a full budget and go in for vote on account - getting the approval of the legislature to spend money till a proper budget for the year is presented.

Whether it is full budget or vote on account, the 10-day session is bound to be stormy as besides the ruling party's infighting, the 'porngate' issue involving three BJP ministers, Laxman Savadi, C.C. Patil and J. Krishna Palemar, will be the hot topic for discussion.

Savadi and Patil were Feb 7 caught on TV cameras viewing a porn clip on a cell phone they said belonged to Palemar. The three quit the next day following public outcry.

A panel of assembly members set up by speaker K.G. Bopaiah to probe the incident will submit its report March 20. The Congress and Janata Dal-Secular had boycotted the panel reducing the probe into a BJP show.

The two parties have been insisting that Savadi, Patil and Palemar be expelled from the assembly. If the panel does not recommend strong action against the three, then its findings will come in handy for the opposition parties to take on the ruling party.

Another contentious issue is the claim of mining barons Reddy brothers loyalist and former BJP minister B. Sriramulu that they had given Yeddyurappa over Rs.250 crore to help form the party's first government in May 2008 and later to stabilize it.

Both Yeddyurappa and BJP are silent on Sriramulu's claim, who quit the party last year and is launching his own party.

Of the three Reddy brothers, Gali Janaradhana, who was in Yeddyurappa's cabinet, is in Central Bureau of Investigation custody in connection with the illegal mining case. The other two, Gali Karunakara and Gali Somashekara, both assembly members, have also declined to comment on Sriramulu's claim.

With so many controversial political issues competing for the spotlight, Gowda's budget or vote on account may end up as an also ran, at a time when nearly half of the state is suffering from drought.

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