Bangalore/New Delhi: The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) staved off another crisis in its Karnataka unit, at least temporarily, persuading rebel ministers in the state to withdraw their resignations while the party focuses on the coming presidential election.
The party assured the rebel ministers, supporters of former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, that their demand for a new leadership in the state government will be met in a few days.
Yeddyurappa wants Karnataka chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to be replaced with Jagadish Shettar.
The BJP’s national leaders, who held a marathon meeting on Sunday, have called Gowda and the nine rebel ministers to New Delhi for further talks.
The party leaders bought time till the 19 July presidential elections and persuaded Yeddyurappa to suspend his 5 July deadline to remove Gowda as chief minister.
The revolt in the Karnataka BJP is under control for the moment with the rebel MPs taking back their resignations. Mint’s Sahil Makkar and political analyst Jai Mrug what it means for the party and the state.
Shettar, rural development and panchayat raj minister in the state government, holds his allegiance to Yeddyurappa, who is facing charges of corruption and impropriety. Both belong to the dominant Lingayat caste in the state.
The BJP has 120 members in the 225-member Karnataka assembly and Yeddyurappa claims to have the support of about 70 of them. Lingayats constitute the largest group in Karnataka, comprising 18% of Karnataka’s population.
Karnataka assembly elections are due next year.
“The ministers have taken back their resignations unconditionally and have returned to work. We are heading for a political solution in Karnataka,” BJP’s in-charge for Karnataka affairs Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters in New Delhi. “Appropriate action will be taken at appropriate time. It has been conveyed to all the sides,” he added.
This is the first time in the past year that the BJP’s central leadership has hinted at a change in leadership since the crisis begin in the state government with the resignation of Yeddyurappa. He had hand-picked Gowda as his successor when he had to step down last year over corruption charges, but relations soured between them.
The central leadership worries that if Yeddyurappa is cleared of corruption charges, he will demand to be reinstated as the chief minister.
After a meeting at Yeddyurappa’s home on ZZZ, Shettar said the BJP high-command assured it will decide on the leadership issue in two-three days. “The party’s central leaders told the ministers to withdraw their resignations and come to Delhi for talks so that it creates a conducive atmosphere for taking a good decision,” said Shettar.
An aide of Gowda, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the rebel ministers withdrew their resignations after the party leadership assured them of a decision in two-three days.
“The chief minister is still hopeful that the crisis will tide over, like it has previously,” the aide said.
Gowda after reaching Delhi told media persons that he will abide by the party’s decision on any change in leadership.
“Right from the beginning I used to say I am a disciplined soldier of the party. Whatever direction my party gives I am prepared to accept it,” he said.
PTI contributed to the story.