Bangalore: The threat to the Karnataka state government fizzled out after former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappawas persuaded by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to stay in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Yeddyurappa had said he would break away from the party by 15 January if he wasn’t made state president. He now plans to embark on a party building exercise on that date.

Change of plan: Former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. Photo by Hemant Mishra/Mint

“We have resolved our differences. There was a lot of unnecessary infighting, and the morale of the party has taken a hit," Eshwarappa said.

On Wednesday, state RSS leaders M.C. Jayadev, Mangesh Bendiand K.M.

Naraharimet Yeddyurappa, Eshwarappa and Gowda, and asked them to iron out their differences. “There were some minor differences, which will be sorted out," Yeddyurappa told the The Times of India on Wednesday.

Yeddyurappa was told by RSS leaders that there would be no change in the state leadership and that he should first try and clear his name in the illegal mining case, a senior BJP minister said on condition of anonymity.

“However, the RSS did let Yeddyurappa embark on his state tour, provided other BJP leaders, including Eshwarappa and Gowda were part of it," he said.

Both the BJP and the RSS want to avoid antagonizing Yeddyurappa, who is seen to have the support of his Lingayat community, which is the largest social group in the state and accounts for 18% of its population.

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Yeddyurappa was forced to step down from the chief minister’s post in July

2011 after he was named in a report on illegal mining by former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde. Following this, six private complaints were filed against him in the Lokayukta court. He was sent to jail in October, but was released on bail after three weeks. Several party members and cabinet ministers believe Yeddyurappa will play a key role in the next assembly election, due in 2013. The party had fought the last assembly and parliamentary elections under Yeddyurappa. It won 108 of the 220 assembly seats and 19 of the 24 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Even within the party, Yeddyurappa has loyal supporters, as exemplified by state excise minister M.P. Renukacharya who recently declared that “Gowda is my chief minister and Yeddyurappa my leader". Renukacharya had also accused Gowda of violating a tacit agreement to step down as chief minister and make way for Yeddyurappa after the harvest festival of Makara Sankranti on 15 January.

Meanwhile, support for Yeddyurappa came from unexpected quarters: Congress leader and MP H. Vishwanathsaid the former chief minister was being made a scapegoat despite building the party in the state. “Yeddyurappa, who has the backing of the Lingayat community, was responsible for building the BJP in the state. It is unfortunate that he has been treated in such a shabby manner," he said on Friday. Yeddyurappa should put an end to this humiliation and start a new party, the Congress leader added.

shamsheer.y@livemint.com

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