- Cabinet expansion seems to favour BS Yediyurappa's camp: BJP leaders
- Mr Yediyurappa challenges them to take up complaint with party leadership
- Cabinet changes took place after Mr Yediyurappa met Amit Shah in Delhi
A fight has exploded in Karnataka's ruling BJP with several leaders hitting out at Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa over a cabinet expansion seen to favour his camp heavily.
Facing public attacks from his party men, Mr Yediyurappa challenged them to take up their complaint with the party leadership.
"If the BJP MLAs have any objection they can go to Delhi, meet our national leaders and give them all the information and complaints they have. I won't object to that but I ask them not to damage the party's reputation by talking ill," the Chief Minister told reporters in Bengaluru.
He added that central BJP leaders would take a call on their complaints.
Some BJP leaders openly accused the Chief Minister of including in his 17-month-old cabinet only those who had "blackmailed" him or were in his inner circle.
"Yediyurappa only considered and appointed those who blackmailed him with a CD and paid huge money to him. Two are been made ministers and one person has been made political secretary after all three used the CD to blackmail him," said senior BJP leader Basanagouda R Patil.
"Loyalty, caste, seniority, region wasn't considered, all that was considered was CD and blackmail. Yediyurappa completely ignored party loyal workers like us and those who blackmailed him, made a CD and planned to bring down his government have been made ministers," he raged.
Mr Patil is among some dozen BJP leaders who are furious at being passed over for a cabinet spot and are not holding back.
Other dissenters are H Vishwanath, MP Kumaraswamy, Satish Reddy, Shivanagowda Nayak, Thippareddy and even Mr Yediyurappa's close aide, MP Renukacharya.
Yesterday, seven new ministers joined the Yediyurappa cabinet - MTB Nagaraj, Umesh Katti, Aravind Limbavali, Murugesh Nirani, R Shankar, CP Yogeshwar and Angara S.
At least three of them - Umesh Katti, Arvind Limbavali and Murugesh Nirani - are seen as Yediyurappa loyalists.
MTB Nagaraj and CP Yogeshwar are defectors from the Congress and R Shankar was an independent who was made a minister in the Congress-JDS coalition government just before it fell last year.
The cabinet changes, the third since Mr Yediyurappa took charge after the collapse of the Congress-JDS government following the rebellion of 17 MLAs, took place after the Chief Minister met with Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Sunday.
Congress leader DK Sivakumar took a sharp dig at the infighting within the BJP and called for an investigation into the allegations of blackmail.
"BJP now is 'Blackmailers Janata Party'. BJP's own MLAs and leaders are accusing CM Yediyurappa of being bribed and blackmailed during Cabinet expansion. These statements by BJP leaders must be probed by a sitting HC (High Court) Judge and enforcement agencies like ED (Enforcement Directorate) must suo-motu register a case," Mr Sivakumar tweeted.
The BJP's Karnataka unit insisted that despite the heartburn, all is well. "Disappointment is natural. It may be genuine in cases. It did take a long time... but there is no real problem for BJP," said state minister Suresh Kumar.