Karnataka BJP leaders use drought for political gain (Karnataka Newsletter)
Bangalore, April 6 (IANS) The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka continues to sink deeper into the morass over its internal power struggle, with even the severe drought that has affected more than half the state being used to settle scores.
With BJP national leaders showing little inclination to firmly deal with former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa's bid for reinstatement, he is using the drought to hit at them and party colleague and successor D.V. Sadananda Gowda.
The government has declared over 120 of the state's 176 taluks (administrative sub-divisions) drought affected following poor monsoon.
Gowda has been repeatedly stating that steps have been taken to meet drinking water and food needs of the people in these areas. Enough fodder and water for the livestock are also being provided, he asserts.
Disagreeing, Yeddyurappa has started a tour of the affected areas to, as he claims, "learn first hand" the situation and give inputs to the government. That would have been a welcome development but for the way he set out on this mission.
He announced his decision in Bangalore Tuesday, a day after Gowda's dig at him for attending "felicitation" programmes.
Yeddyurappa quit July 31 over mining bribery charges and has been demanding reinstatement ever since. He has intensified his attempts after the March 7 high court verdict quashing the charges.
He claims that BJP national leaders had promised to make him chief minister again as soon as he was cleared of mining bribery charges. To force them to honour their word, he has made his supporters organise public rallies to show his strength.
He also led a day's boycott of the assembly by about 70 of the party's 120 members in the 225-member house.
"I don't crave for such felicitation where people are hired to attend. It is better to spend that money on providing relief to drought-hit people," Gowda told reporters in Bangalore when asked about his supporters' plan to felicitate him as a counter to Yeddyurappa's rallies.
Before announcing his tour of drought-hit areas, Yeddyurappa repeated his claim for reinstatement and, in an indirect attack on Gowda, lashed out at officials saying they were lethargic and not visiting the affected people.
Gowda has hit back.
He quickly formed three groups of ministers and announced they will visit the drought affected districts to supervise relief programmes.
With summer setting in, the situation in drought-affected areas will only worsen.
The competitive visits to these areas by the ruling party's squabbling leaders will only result in officials at various levels attending to them rather than the needs of the people, besides being a huge waste of money in arranging for government vehicles and security.
And with elections to the state assembly just a year away, BJP factions seem set to squeeze the drought to the last drop for political gain.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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