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Aggressive stance: B.S. Yeddyurappa.(Hemant Mishra/Mint)

Aggressive stance: B.S. Yeddyurappa.(Hemant Mishra/Mint)

Yeddyurappa gives ultimatum to BJP

Yeddyurappa gives ultimatum to BJP

Former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has given the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) an ultimatum regarding his rehabilitation in the party structure. Yeddyurappa has threatened to quit the party unless it does as he asks by 15 January, the harvest festival of Makar Sankranti.

Yeddyurappa was forced to quit as chief minister in July after being named in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining. Since then he has been involved in a series of disputes with the party leadership over his future in the party.

Aggressive stance: B.S. Yeddyurappa.(Hemant Mishra/Mint)

Yeddyurappa hit back at Eshwarappa at a press conference last week. “He has been conspiring against me ever since I assumed office as chief minister. He should stop making unnecessary comments against me," he was cited as saying by the Press Trust of India.

Efforts have been made to placate the former chief minister. On Monday, home minister R. Ashok, who led a delegation of 10 MLAs to request Yeddyurappa not to leave the party, told reporters: “He (Yeddyurappa) deserves a post befitting his stature."

Local newspapers have reported that he was in talks with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over a possible breaking away from the BJP, but Yeddyurappa himself has been silent on the matter.

On Tuesday, the Congress said a snap poll may be on the cards and that it would begin the process of identifying candidates for 150 constituencies out of the total 224 in the state.

“If you watch current political developments closely, it is evident that elections in 2012 are inevitable," Congress president G. Parameshwara told reporters in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Assembly elections are due in the state in May 2013. Parameshwara added that observers from the All India Congress Committee were already preparing for possible early polls, and a meeting with Madhusudan Mistry, the party general secretary in charge of Karnataka, was scheduled for next week.

Sandeep Shastri, political analyst and pro vice-chancellor of Jain University in Bangalore, didn’t agree with the Congress view and said Yeddyurappa has limited support among the MLAs. “So the government should be safe in the short term," he said. He warned that the BJP could lose support in the long term if Yeddyurappa decides to carve out his own party. A senior leader like Yeddyurappa, who spent decades building the party, would not appreciate being sidelined, Shastri said. “The inability of the BJP to manage these contradictions is going to hurt them in the long term," he said.

Yeddyurappa’s deadline has put the BJP under pressure. Anger over Yeddyurappa could potentially see support eroding from the Lingayat community, which the former chief minister belongs to. Lingayats form the largest social group in the state, around 18%. But any conciliatory move would undermine the BJP’s fight at the Centre against corruption and its opposition to the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha. BJP senior leader and higher education minister V.S. Acharya was optimistic about an amicable resolution. “The party has gone through a lot in the last two years, and we will come out on top of this too," he said.

shamsheer.y@livemint.com

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