K'taka floods: BJP asks BSY to focus on flood relief, take up Cabinet expansion later
Bengaluru, Aug 07: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa who was scheduled to finalise Cabinet formation with the BJP central leadership, cut short his visit to New Delhi after the party chief Amit Shah told him to focus his attention on flood relief and rehabilitation in the state.
The flood situation in parts of the state remained grim on Wednesday with nearly 26,000 people being evacuated and five people killed in rain-related incidents in the past three days, sources said.
"I was supposed to meet the President of India at 5pm but Amit Shah directed me not to bother about the cabinet expansion, and visit some flood0affected areas like Belagavi and four-five other districts," Yediyurappa told reporters after reaching Bengaluru Wednesday. He was on a two-day visit to the national capital.
On Tuesday, he met several Union Ministers pursuing State issues pending before the Centre. He was to meet Shah on Wednesday. Yediyurappa was sworn-in Chief Minister on July 26. He is the only minister in his Council of Ministers.
The chief minister said the officers were alert and Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi, who is a Lok Sabha member from Belgaum constituency, would reach Belagavi shortly, while MLAs of the flood-hit areas have camped in their respective districts.
Regarding cabinet expansion, Yediyurappa said he would go to Delhi again to get the approval of the party's central leadership. "In three to four days I will go to Delhi again to discuss and finalise the cabinet expansion. After returning from there we will expand our cabinet," Yediyurappa said.
The chief minister insisted that Shah had directed him that his first priority should be relief and rehabilitation works in the flood-affected areas. The delay in Cabinet expansion has given ammunition to the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) to target Yediyurappa. The chief minister later left for Belagavi to take stock of the flood situation.
Meanwhile, the situation continued to remain grim as the floodgates were opened in the dams in neighbouring Maharashtra and barrages and reservoirs in Karnataka, where road and rail links remain hit following incessant monsoon rains.
Two persons each have been killed in Belagavi and Uttar Kannada districts, and one in Shivamogga, taking the toll to five since Monday, the sources said.
The rescue teams, including personnel from Fire and Emergency, State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Army, moved people from flood-hit areas to safety.
"The teams evacuated 25,794 people today. The flood situation is under control", an official statement said. Parts of north and coastal areas along with the Malnada region continued to reel under heavy downpour.
While Belagavi, Bagalkote, Vijayapura, Raichur and Yadgir had been battered by the floods, torrential rains threw life out of gear in Udupi, Chikkamagaluru, Mangaluru, Kodagu, Hubballi-Dharwad, Karwar, Hassan and Shivamogga.
Belagavi, Bagalkote and Yadgir bore the brunt of the heavy downpour and water released from dams on the Krishna river and its tributaries.
Government schools in Belagavi turned into rehabilitation centres where the flood-hit people shared their rooms with the livestock. Chikkamagaluru district too was badly hit by the torrential rain.
The swollen Bhadra river completely submerged the Hebbale bridge that connects Horanadu. The opposition Congress and JD(S) have accused the government of "inaction" in dealing with the flood situation.
"Terrible floods in many parts of Karnataka. And CM is away politicking in Delhi," former minister and Congress MLA, Krishna Byre Gowda, said. "No minister even to attend to flood problems," he said.
Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy questioned the 'absence' of Chief Minister B S Yedyiurappa from the state.
"There are floods in many parts of Karnataka. I need to ask, Ellidiyappa Yediyurappa (Where are you Yediyurappa)?" he said at a meeting of JDS.
The opposition party, headed by former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, wrote on Twitter, "12 days since new Govt, BJP still hasn't given Karnataka a Cabinet. Government is missing".
However, government sources rejected the charge of Congress and JD(S). They noted that Yediyurappa had earlier this week conducted an aerial survey of the affected regions in north Karnataka.
The chief minister has already instructed officials to take up relief and rescue measures on a war-footing, official sources said.