Bangalore: Seeking to break the logjam on leadership issue in Karnataka, top BJP central leaders on Saturday set the ball rolling to choose a successor to chief minister B. S. Yeddyurappa, holding consultations with legislators and MPs.
According to top BJP sources, Yeddyurappa will tender his resignation on Sunday afternoon, keeping his word on Thursday that he would step down on 31 July following the party directive in the wake of his indictment in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining scam.
Senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu began the consultation process to break the logjam.
Earlier in the day, Yeddyurappa met Jaitley and Singh, who have been exerting pressure on him to quit to pave the way for smooth election of a successor.
Throwing up signs of rebellion, Yeddyurappa had mobilized his loyalist MLAs and ministers who insisted on his continuance, putting the central leadership in a quandary.
Yeddyurappa wants the successor to be of his choice and is insisting on the state unit party president’s post for him, party sources said.
BJP national general secretary Ananth Kumar is emerging as the top contender for the chief minister’s post, while the names of senior minister V. S. Acharya and party MP Sadananda Gowda is also doing the rounds.
Karnataka BJP president K. S. Eshwarappa expressed strong displeasure over the criticism of Lokayukta report by Yeddyurappa loyalists -- ministers V. Somanna and M. P. Renukacharya, and Lok Sabha member D. B. Chandre Gowda.
Eshwarappa also stressed that nobody can question the decision of BJP Parliamentary Board, which asked Yeddyurappa to resign.
After the BJP Parliamentary Board directive on Thursday, Yeddyurappa had issued a statement, saying he would step down on 31 July, but within hours stirred up a virtual rebellion setting pre-conditions that even resulted in the cancellation of the legislature party to choose his successor on Friday.
“The collective opinion of the (majority) MLAs is that he should not resign... 74 MLAs have given authorization to Yeddyurappa to decide whether he should resign or not,” BJP chief Whip D. N. Jeevaraj told reporters earlier outside Yeddyurappa’s residence.
Yeddyurappa’s show of strength was seen as an attempt to play the hard ball for installing a man of his choice as chief minister apart from securing a key party post to maintain his hold.
“If he changes his decision (and decides to quit), we will abide by that decision. All in all, we are with the chief minister,” Jeevaraj said.
As the BJP leaders continued to grapple with the worst- ever crisis that has hit the party’s first government in the south, no indications were available on when the legislature party meeting would be held.
Jeevaraj said he has received no instruction from either the central leaders or state party chief K. S. Eshwarappa or Yeddyurappa himself on the issue of convening the meeting.