Gadkari in Bangalore to assess damage to BJP’s image

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BANGALORE - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari arrived here Tuesday to assess the damage to the party’s image caused by alleged illegal land deals of the B.S. Yeddyurappa government, the BJP’s first in south India.

He was accompanied by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who has been told to give “special attention” to Karnataka affairs.

The party’s new Karnataka general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan is part of the team, which is on a day-long visit.

“The party president will meet the chief minister, other ministers, party leaders and legislators on the situation in the state,” state party chief K.S. Eshwarappa told reporters ahead of a meeting with Gadkari at a resort on Bangalore’s outskirts.

Gadkari’s visit comes in the backdrop of Yeddyurappa battling charges of favouring his close kin, including sons and daughter, with allotment of prime land in and around Bangalore.

Gadkari’s visit, second to the state since he became the BJP chief, takes place at a difficult time for the party, like his first visit.

He came to Bangalore in July to persuade Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, to withdraw his resignation. Hegde had quit as he was upset at the way the Yeddyurappa government was handling the illegal iron ore mining issue. Hegde, son of former senior BJP vice-president K.S. Hegde, later withdrew his resignation.

While Yeddyurappa has been given a breather by the BJP leadership to stay on as chief minister, his and the party’s problems seem to be getting worse in the state.

Yeddyurappa’s trusted aide Katta Subramanya Naidu quit Dec 3 as minister after state police registered a complaint against him over illegal allotment of 325 acres of land on Bangalore outskirts. Also named in the Dec 2 police complaint are his Bangalore corporator son Katta Jagadish Naidu and eight of their associates.

Hegde is again unhappy with Yeddyurappa as he has ordered probe into land deals by a retired Karnataka high court judge instead of entrusting the investigation to the Lok Ayukta.

Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has also expressed displeasure over the move. He told reporters here Sunday that the government had “done it deliberately to create confusion”.

The BJP chief will also assess the preparedness of the state unit for the elections to local bodies at district and taluka levels due on Dec 26 and Dec 31.

The elections, dates for which were announced Monday in Bangalore, will be the first major test for the party and the government after Yeddyurappa’s improper land deals became public in early November.

Filed under: Politics

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