Bangalore: As two senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders kicked off consultations to pick a new chief minister in Karnataka, some party MPs and MLAs on Friday rallied behind B. S. Yeddyurappa asking its high command to reconsider his resignation.
Senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh flew in here on Friday ahead of the BJP legislature party meeting to elect a new leader amid reports that Yeddyurappa is pressing hard for having a say in the choice of his successor.
Yeddyurappa reluctantly agreed to resign on Thursday following the party high command’s decision in the wake of his severe indictment by the Lokayukta in the illegal mining scam. He said he will be officially submitting his resignation to governor H. R. Bharadwaj on 31 July.
D. B. Chandre Gowda, an MP said, “Karnataka BJP MPs are of the unanimous opinion that Yeddyurappa should not resign.
He is not an individual. He is an institution as CM. He should have taken the opinion of all elected representatives. We appeal to the high command to reconsider.”
Gowda also said, “The Lokayukta report has lost its sanctity--it leaked.”
Housing minister V. Somanna said, “You all know he has said he will resign on 31st. But it is not the right time. Lok Sabha MPs have expressed their opinion. Deve Gowda has said his party won’t survive if Yeddyurappa stays for another two years as CM.”
Revenue minister G. Karunakara Reddy, who has also been indicted along with his brother and minister G. Janardhana Reddy, slammed Lokayukta Santosh Hegde saying allegations against him were untrue and demanded a public apology.
Yeddyurappa while breaking his silence after the party asked him to step down said he has agreed to resign as a “disciplined worker” of BJP.
In his first comments after keeping the party on tenterhooks, Yeddyurappa said in a statement he had toiled for 40 years to build the party in Karnataka from scratch and it was his “committed desire” to work for its development in future also.
As Yeddyurappa continued to be a rallying point for his loyalists upset over his exit, a section of MLAs publicly said they would appeal to the central leadership to allow him to continue in the post. A few others expressed displeasure over its “unilateral” decision of asking him to quit without consulting them.
“A majority of MLAs, MLCs and Lok Sabha members are with Yeddyurappa. Yeddyurappa is our leader”, loyalist minister M. P. Renukacharya said. “We will appeal to the central leaders to continue with Yeddyurappa (as chief minister)”.
Yeddyurappa on his part said he is a disciplined worker of BJP and that his decision to tender his resignation was as per the direction of the party.
“The month of ‘Ashada’ (considered inauspicious) will be over on 30 July. I will be tendering my resignation as chief minister on the forenoon of 31 July”, he added.
Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh were dispatched by the BJP high command to serve as observers at the party’s Legislature party meeting which was postponed from morning to this evening.
Senior party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu and in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka Dharmendra Pradhan also held consultations on the issue of electing a new leader.
As the developments unfolded, a section of MLAs met at the residence of tourism minister G. Janardhana Reddy, some others at the chief minister’s, while a few more at the party office where Eshwarappa and Ananth Kumar were present.
Naidu said the election process is going to be a smooth affair and the new chief minister would most probably take office on August one, after Yeddyurappa submits his resignation on 31 July.
The names doing the rounds are state BJP president K. S. Eshwarappa, Lok Sabha MP Sadanand Gowda, higher education minister V. S. Acharya, law and justice minister Suresh Kumar S, party national general secretary and MP Ananth Kumar, rural development minister Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat leader and Yeddyurappa’s close associate and minister Shoba Karandlaje.
Naidu discounted reports that Yeddyurappa has set some conditions before he agreed to quit.
“He (Yeddyurappa) has not put any conditions (for stepping down. There is no question of any condition at all”, he said.
“No preconditions by anybody” said Pradhan when asked by reporters whether Yeddyurappa’s exit was conditional.
D. V. Sadananda Gowda, one of the frontrunners for the CM’s post said: “If I am given the opportunity, I will accept it. I will not lobby. I will not ask anybody to give me the post”.