Gadkari intervenes in Reddy brothers’ row, says all ministers unanimous choice

May 28th, 2011 - 11:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi/Bangalore, May 28 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari intervened Saturday to quell the raging controversy over remarks of party leader Sushma Swaraj on inducting the controversial Reddy brothers in the Karnataka government, and said all ministers were the unanimous choice of the party.

He said ministers were selected by Chief Minister B.S. Yedyurappa in consultation with the party’s central and state leaders.

“It is the considered position of the BJP that all our cabinet ministers in Karnataka government are the unanimous choice of the party, both central as well as the state, and are equally capable and committed to providing good governance to the people of Karnataka. Therefore, there is absolutely no question of any individual or individuals influencing this process in any particular manner,” Gadkari said, in a statement issued in New Delhi.

Any debate about the choice of ministers in the Karnataka government at this stage in the media was totally unnecessary, he said.

The BJP chief’s statement came in the wake of media reports that Sushma Swaraj’s remarks to a magazine denying that she was political mentor of the Reddy brothers, allegedly involved in illegal iron ore mining in Karnataka, and putting the onus for their induction in the state cabinet on party leader Arun Jaitley were part of the tussle among the two second-generation leaders for projection as the party’s prime ministerial choice in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Sushma Swaraj is leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and Jaitley in the similar position in the Rajya Sabha.

Earlier Saturday, Rajnath Singh, who was the party president when the BJP formed its first government in Karnataka, took onus for decisions regarding cabinet formation, but his remarks only added to the controversy as he cited “political compulsions” behind induction of the Reddy brothers as ministers.

Talking to media persons in New Delhi and then in Karnataka’s Hubli city, Rajnath Singh said his consent was there in the formation of the Karnataka cabinet.

“My consent was there. After that, the decision was taken. To say that Sushma-ji or Arun-ji is responsible for this, I don’t think it is right because whatever happened, I was the president then. It happened with my consent,” he said.

“If someone wants to fix responsibility, they can fix the responsibility on me. I don’t hold Sushma-ji and Arun-ji responsible for it. There were some political compulsions that we had to take this decision (of making them ministers).”

He also accepted that in 2009, when the Reddy brothers revolted against Yeddyurappa, he had sought the services of Sushma Swaraj to talk to the mining barons to end the crisis.

The Karnataka chief minister also sought to defuse the controversy, asserting that nobody influenced him to take the Reddy brothers, mining barons, in his cabinet.

Speaking to reporters at Hubli, about 360 km from Bangalore, Yeddyurappa said that cabinet making was his prerogative. “None recommended them (the Reddy brothers),” he told reporters.

Karnataka BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa also told reporters in Bangalore Saturday that it was “Yeddyurappa’s decision to make Reddy brothers ministers”.

Political observers said Gadkari’s comments were likely to be interpreted in party circles as disapproval of remarks of Sushma Swaraj, who told Outlook news magazine that she had no hand in making the Reddy brothers ministers.

“When they were made ministers, Jaitley-ji was in charge and Yeddyurappa was CM. I had nothing to do with it,” she said, also shifting accountability to the then central observers from the party, Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar.

Of the three brothers, two are ministers - G. Janardhana holds tourism, and elder G. Karunakara handles revenue portfolio. The younger, G. Somashekara, is an assembly member from iron-ore rich Bellary, the political base of the three.

The Reddy brothers always refer to Sushma Swaraj as their ‘thayi’ (mother) and only she could persuade them to give up their demand for Yeddyurappa’s head when they had rebelled against him in October 2009.

Meanwhile, the Congress saw in the controversy an opportunity to take pot shots at the BJP.

“Swaraj’s assertions once again underscore the fundamental reality of BJP that money talks and Yeddyurappa and Reddy walk. While Karnataka burns with corruption, the Neros of BJP fiddle in Delhi,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari told reporters in New Delhi.

“In the last elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) boasted of a leader who was in the contention as a prime ministerial candidate since 2004. And by the time the year 2014 approaches, the waiting list is bound to increase further. Because the Bharatiya Janata Party is unable to understand the fact that they will never come in power,” he added.

The latest row to hit BJP about its government in Karnataka has come three days ahead of Yeddyurappa completing three years in office.

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