Belgaum: Karnataka's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will Wednesday decide on action to be taken against 14 of its assembly members for defying a diktat to stay away from the formal launch of former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa's new party. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, state Bharatiya Janata Party chief KS Eshwarappa, former chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda and other leaders will meet in Belgaum, about 500 km from Bangalore, to take the decision.
They are all here for the winter session of the state legislature which will conclude on Thursday. Drastic action like expulsion from the party appears unlikely as that would reduce the Shettar government to a minority in the 225-member assembly.
Including the 14 rebels, the BJP has 118 members in the assembly. It also has the support of one Independent who is a cabinet minister.
The Congress has 71 members and the Janata Dal-Secular 26. There are six other independents while two seats are vacant. There is one nominated member.
BJP sources said the party might try to wear down Yeddyurappa loyalists which would help it remain in power till the election due in less than six months. The assembly's term expires May next.
This strategy would help the party to keep taunting Yeddyurappa to show courage and pull the down the government, which he is reluctant because of the caste factor. His main support base is among the Lingayats, who constitute around 17 percent of the state's 65 million population and are present in large number in north Karnataka.
Shettar, like Yeddyurappa, belongs to Lingayat community and hails from the north Karnataka town of Hubli, 90 km from here and 400 km from Bangalore. With elections so near, Yeddyurappa can ill afford to go to people carrying the blame not just of toppling the government headed by a fellow Lingayat but a leader from north Karnataka as people in the region have a grouse that the area is neglected compared to southern and coastal areas of the state.
In view of these factors, the BJP might just issue show cause notice to the 14 assembly members and five legislative council members on why action should not be taken for sharing the dais with Yeddyurappa at his Karnataka Janata Party's formal launch Sunday at Haveri, about 70km from here.
Further action would be based on the reply of these rebels. Meanwhile, Shettar scotched speculation that he was contemplating cabinet reshuffle.
The 34-strong cabinet has two vacancies. One was created by the sacking of Cooperation Minister BJ Puttaswamy for backing Yeddyurappa and another following resignation of Infrastructure Development Minister Sunil Valyapure who has decided to join the former chief minister's party. Shettar said on Tuesday that he had no plans to change the portfolios of ministers or filling the vacancies.