Bangalore, April 14 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party's claim to be a party with a difference has, for long, become the butt of ridicule. It may soon be dubbed as a party that is scared to take tough decisions. At least that is what party's Karnataka unit seems to be thinking going by the exasperated comments over the lingering leadership tussle in the state.
The party's chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda remains unsure of how long he will retain the chair that he got Aug 4 last year after B.S. Yeddurappa was forced to quit July 31 over mining bribery charges.
He is bravely carrying on even as the party national leaders keep assuring Yeddyurappa that his demand for re-instatement will be considered "at an appropriate time".
The inability of the BJP national leaders to decide whether to retain Gowda or bring back Yeddyurappa has meant the chief minister handling more than 20 portfolios - from finance to urban development and health and family welfare to women and child development.
This is because there are 11 vacancies in his ministry and party national leaders have been hesitant to give him the green signal to fill them up fearing further intensification of factional fights.
The state can have a 34-member ministry including the chief minister as per country's law that restricts the strength of the ministry to 15 percent of the members of the state assembly. Karnataka assembly has 225 members, one of whom is a nominated member.
In fact Gowda has not formed a full ministry at all.
He managed with 27 members for several months. Four more vacancies were created in February this year following the resignation of three ministers over sleazegate and the death of another minister.
Gowda has made several attempts in vain to get his party national leaders nod to fill the vacancies to reduce the burden on him.
However, there is little hope of national leaders agreeing to cabinet expansion until they are clear about what to do with Yeddyurappa's demand for re-instatement.
There is speculation in political circles in Bangalore that Gowda has clearly told the party's national leaders that he prefers to quit rather than continuing in the chair with so much uncertainty.
State BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa recently gave vent to the frustration in the state unit over party national leaders allowing the crisis to linger on.
"Why only in state unit, there is confusion at our party's central level also," he said in Bangalore.
His exasperated response to the media is understandable as for over six months now he, Gowda and Yeddyurappa almost daily face the barrage from reporters on when the crisis affecting the Karnataka BJP will end.
While the scene is gloomy for BJP, the brighter side for the state is that it has saved a few million rupees with fewer ministers running the government.
Each cabinet minister in Karnataka costs the people several million rupees as salary is Rs.25,000 per month with house rent allowance of Rs.40,000, conveyance allowance equal to 750 litres of petrol per month plus 'sumptuary allowance' of Rs.150,000 per year.
They also get additional travelling and other allowances when on tour.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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