Bangalore, Dec 24 : M.P. Renukacharya, a dissident legislator of Karnataka’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was Thursday sworn in by Governor H.R. Bhardwaj as a cabinet minister in Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s government. With the induction of Renukacharya at a simple ceremony on the lawns of Raj Bhavan, the lone vacancy in the 33-member state ministry has been filled.
The conspicuous absence of BJP state president D.V Sadananda Gowda, some cabinet ministers and all 17 party legislators from Bangalore at the swearing-in ceremony revealed the extent of opposition to Renukacharya joining the ministry as he had sided with the Reddy brothers in the revolt against the continuation of Yeddyurappa as chief minister.
BJP general secretary and Lok Sabha member from Bangalore South Ananth Kumar too stayed away from the ceremony.
Ironically, Renukacharya was seen touching Yeddyurappa’s feet for blessings soon after taking the oath in Kannada.
Denying there was opposition to his becoming a minister, Renukacharya told reporters later that there were no differences in the party and that he was as loyal to the chief minister as Hindu god Hanuman was to Lord Rama.
"Differences within the party and opposition to my elevation as minister are not true. I have been blessed to work for the people by the party’s central and state leaders," Renukacharya asserted.
The new minister, a first-time legislator from Honnali in Davangere district, had camped for a fortnight at a five-star hotel in Hyderabad along with 50 other rebel legislators, seeking change in the leadership.
Renukacharya had backed the mining barons - Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy and his elder brother, Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy - for replacing Yeddyurappa.
He was expecting to be made a minister after the Reddy brothers relented at the intervention of senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj.
Since that did not happen, Renukacharya had been mobilising other rebel legislators unhappy with Yeddyurappa to take him into the ministry.
Incidentally, Renukacharya is facing criminal charges of extortion, breach of peace, criminal intimidation and insulting the modesty of a woman.
Jayalakshmi, a nurse at Davangere, about 250 km from here, filed a complaint two years ago against Renukacharya alleging sexual harassment. She also claimed that her life was in danger from threats by the legislator.
A local court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Renukacharya after he failed to respond to its notice for his presence in connection with the criminal case.