Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has hit out at party leaders for lack of support in "saving" the BJP government and not recognising the "sacrifice" of disqualified Congress-JD(S) MLAs, because of whom they could come to power. Yediyurappa has said that he feels like having committed a "crime" for occupying the chief minister's post making disqualified MLAs trust in him. A purported audio of Yediyurappa expressing anguish against leaders at a recent party meeting in Hubballi over their opposition to giving tickets to disqualified Congress-JD(S) MLAs for the December 5 Assembly bypolls in 15 Assembly constituencies has surfaced. In the audio, he can be heard saying that the rebel Congress JD(S) MLAs, who were later disqualified, were kept in Mumbai during the final days of the coalition government under the watch of BJP national President Amit Shah. "Somehow today the way you (party leaders) spoke, did not seem to be intended at saving this government. You are aware that the decision on 17 (MLAs) was not taken by Yediyurappa or any other state leader. It was known to the national president and under his watch for about two or two-and-a-half (months) they were kept in Mumbai and things happened. All of you are aware of it, right?" the chief minister has said. "For 2.5 to 3 months they did not go to their constituency or see their wives and children and were put up there... You are aware of it, right?" he can be heard asking party leaders. Bypolls to 15 out of 17 seats represented by disqualified MLAs, whose resignation and absence from trust vote lead to the fall of Congress-JD(S) coalition government, and made way for BJP to come to power, will be held on December five. Amid opposition from local party leaders in these 15 constituencies, Yediyurappa had recently assured that tickets would be given to disqualified MLAs if they wished to contest from the BJP and had appointed party contenders for the tickets there as heads of boards and corporations. Stating that it was a different matter whether the BJP wins or loses an election, he says the disqualified MLAs have given the party an opportunity to come to power by resigning the MLA's posts and have even moved the Supreme Court with a plea that their resignations be accepted "In such a situation, we will stand with them (disqualified MLAs) strongly, come what may...it did not come from your mouths....what would you have done if you were in their position?," he asked. After the fall of the coalition government, the then speaker KR Ramesh Kumar had disqualified them as MLAs, ruling that those disqualified cease to be MLAs with immediate effect till the expiry of the 15th assembly (in 2023), which they have challenged in the Supreme Court. The matter is currently being heard by the apex court at present. BJP needs to win at least six seats in the bypolls to 15 constituencies to be in a majority in the 224-member assembly, which will still have two vacant seats — Maski and RR Nagar. Yediyurappa can be heard saying he did not expect this lack of support and reminded party leaders he had not hankered after the CM's post, which he had held thrice in the past. He says his personal expectation was nothing other than the BJP government should come to power and do good work. "It looks like I committed a crime. I now feel that I have committed the crime of sitting in the chief minister seat by making them (disqualified) believe", he says. He also repeatedly asks those attending the meeting not to disclose the discussion that has taken place outside. Rebuffing leaders for not trying to convince party leaders who planned to "rebel" for giving tickets to the disqualified Congress-JD(S) MLAs, Yediyurappa said not even one leader at the meeting had mentioned their 'sacrifice', because of which the party came to power. He says that the opinions expressed by leaders at the meeting would be brought to high command's notice. "Ultimately the central leadership will take the decision. We are not in a position to take a decision... it is not possible also," Yediyurappa said BJP leaders from Gokak, Athani, Kagwad, Hirekerur, Yellapur, Vijayanagar, and Ranebennur constituencies had attended the October 26 meeting, where party state president Nalin Kumar Kateel among other senior leaders, were also present. Reacting to the audio, KPCC President Dinesh Gundu Rao said Yediyurappa has revealed that BJP and party president Amit Shah had "masterminded" the defection of MLAs. "@bsybjp again confesses about operation Kamala & the immoral defection of @INCIndia MLAs. He also clearly reveals that @AmitShah took care of the defectors for 2.5 months in Mumbai. What more damning proof required that @BJP4India masterminded this entire operation," Rao wrote on Twitter.
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