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    Change of Guards in Karnataka? It’s still a guessing game for Yediyurappa

    Synopsis

    The chief minister said he was “confident” the party leadership will allow him to expand the Cabinet in the next two to three days, and there was no confusion. Yediyurappa not committing to a date has made sections of BJP MLAs, including those who migrated from the Congress and JD(S), nervous.

    Agencies
    A BJP member said a series of recent swift political moves by Yediyurappa did not have the high command’s stamp of approval, and he may have resorted to them on the back of speculations that his replacement was imminent.
    Bengaluru: Chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Sunday indicated there is no green light yet from his Delhi bosses on carrying out a Cabinet expansion or restructuring adding fuel to speculations that the party is head-hunting for a new leader.

    The chief minister said he was “confident” the party leadership will allow him to expand the Cabinet in the next two to three days, and there was no confusion.

    Yediyurappa not committing to a date has made sections of BJP MLAs, including those who migrated from the Congress and JD(S), nervous. While some MLAs like R Shankar and MTB Nagaraj have been waiting for long, it is 20 days since Muniratna won from RR Nagar in Bengaluru.

    Sections of BJP leaders are analysing the CM’s statement on Sunday in the context of his botched-up attempt on recommending to the Centre to include Veerashaiva-Lingayats in the OBC list.

    They also wonder if the CM’s announcement of a board for the welfare of Lingayats — the dominant community he belongs to — was a subtle signal to his party bosses that any leadership change can happen only on his terms.

    The spree of political appointments to 18 statutory boards and corporations last week sprang a surprise even in his own party circles, and some saw it as an insurance to win over new loyalties. Even senior ministers and MPs are clueless as quite a few senior ministers skipped the Cabinet meet on Friday, and some MPs skirted the CM’s meet on the same day.

    This led to rumours in the political corridors that some senior MLAs went to Delhi to lobby with the party bosses to consider them for the CM’s position if they were considering a change. That both Lingayat and Vokkaliga MLAs are taking an aim at the top position is no secret.

    A senior BJP member told ET that only the troika of PM Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and BJP general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh is aware of what awaits the Karnataka BJP.

    The chief minister is probably aware what his Delhi bosses are thinking, but may be keeping it close to his chest.

    Another BJP member said a series of recent swift political moves by Yediyurappa did not have the high command’s stamp of approval, and he may have resorted to them on the back of speculations that his replacement was imminent. “He is probably trying to prove a point and retain his position,” the person said.

    Political analyst Sandeep Shastri said Yediyurappa’s decisions indicate the political posturing he is taking in the event of the party initiating a change of guard.

    “He is trying to assert himself with these gestures. It also appears that his see-saw battle with the central leadership that started right from the day he took charge as the chief minister 16 months ago is reaching its climax,” he said.
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