Bangalore, Feb 5 Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is known for his short temper. And he is showing it much too often these days - apparently weighed down by unabated dissidence in his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and relentless barbs from the opposition.
Twice in the last fortnight he has made intemperate comments and once yelled at his party legislator in full public view.
Obviously upset at Governor H.R. Bhardwaj’s reference in his Republic Day speech to church attacks the previous day, Yeddyurappa startled people with his remark that the hands of those indulging in such incidents should be “chopped off”.
He made the remark Jan 27 at a public meeting near Karwar in Uttara Kannada district, about 500 km from Bangalore. A few hours later the chief minister said he did not mean it and was referring to strict action that his government would take against people vandalising places of worship.
The opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) have lampooned him for the remark.
The chief minister also had a spat with party legislator Chandrasekhar Patil Revoor over his complaint of not being taken in the chief minister’s car to the function! Angry at Revoor raking up the issue in his speech, Yeddyurappa got up from his seat and shouted “why are you raising these issues. Finish your speech”.
Yeddyurappa was at it again five days later. He told a public meeting in Gulbarga, “You should tell the people who criticise me that you will slit their tongues”.
Congress workers in Gulbarga and Yeddyurappa’s home district Shimoga have filed police complaints against him for the statement.
Yeddyurappa, Karnataka’s first BJP chief minister, apparently feels hemmed in by the various pressure groups within the party that have come up on caste lines.
Groupism based on caste has become so rampant in the party that a section of Dalit legislators held a meeting here over “inadequate representation” in the government Jan 30, a few hours after Nitin Gadkari arrived in the city on his first visit after becoming BJP president.
The party has 42 Dalit legislators and over 15 of them, led by Higher Education Minister Arvind Limbavali, met Jan 30, the day state BJP unit’s new president K.S. Eshwarappa assumed office in the presence of Gadkari.Yeddyurappa was also under pressure in the last fortnight from legislators belonging to the Vokkaliga caste to nominate someone from their community to fill three legislative council seats.
There are about 17 Vokkaliga legislators in the BJP. The chief minister bowed to the pressure and nominated Kannada actor Jaggesh Wednesday. The actor had defected to the BJP after winning the May 2008 assembly elections on the Congress ticket. He was rewarded with the post of vice-chairman of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation.
Yeddyurappa, however, suffered a jolt when Governor Bhardwaj rejected the nomination of V. Somanna, a former minister, to the council. Somanna and Yeddyurappa belong to the Lingayat caste.
Bhardwaj said he could not agree to nominate a ‘defector’, causing severe embarrassment to an already harassed Chief Minister.