BJP begins south innings with crisis on hand

May 30th, 2008 - 11:53 pm ICT by admin  

Bangalore, May 30 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s euphoria over getting its first government in Karnataka and south India was tempered with a serious crisis Friday when a senior leader denied a ministerial berth refused to accept the post of assembly speaker. “I prefer to remain an ordinary legislator and I have told our leadership that I will not accept the speakership,” four-time legislator Jagadish Shettar said even as his supporters burnt a bus and demonstrated in his home town in north Karnataka district of Dharwad.

The new BJP chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa virtually washed his hands off the problem, saying that the party central leaders had decided to make Shettar the speaker as he was a lawyer and knows how to conduct the proceedings of the house.

“It was not the decision of the state party. Central leaders felt that Shettar, because of his law background, would make a good speaker and hence they took this decision,” he told reporters here Friday evening.

Shettar has not taken calls from the central leaders, Yeddurappa indicated.

“Central leaders have not been able to establish contact with him,” he said.

Shettar said he had made it clear to the central leaders that he will not accept the speaker’s post. “By being speaker I will not be in a position to be in touch with the people and work for the development of north Karnataka. I have told this to our central leaders,” he said.

He appealed to his supporters in the twin cities of Hubli-Dharwad not to indulge in violence.

The Hubli-Dharwad civic body is controlled by the BJP. All party members of the civic body threatened to resign if Shettar was not made a minister.

Police said one state-run bus was burnt and windows of a few others were damaged in the agitation by his supporters.

The party also faced problems in the distribution of portfolios with too many aspirants for those considered as plum ministries like home, irrigation, power.

The portfolios may be announced only on Saturday, party sources said.

There was also a distinct possibility of Yeddyurappa and central leaders deciding to allot portfolios after the trust vote in the assembly scheduled for June 6.

Yeddyurappa hinted at his maiden press conference soon after taking office that he may retain the finance portfolio which he had held as deputy chief minister in the previous Janata Dal-Secular-BJP coalition government.

The 65-year-old Yeddyurappa was sworn in along with 29 cabinet ministers earlier Friday by Governor Rameshwar Thakur, beginning BJP’s rule in Karnataka and south India for the first time.

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