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rebellion in Karnataka BJP
Search for CM’s successor runs into rough weather
Yeddyurappa digs in his heels; meet to choose new CM put off
Shubhadeep Choudhury & Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

Bangalore/New Delhi, July 29
The Karnataka situation is turning out to be tricky one for the BJP’s central leadership with Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa refusing to bow down to the party’s diktat asking him to quit in the wake of his indictment by the Lokayukta in his report on illegal mining.

The meeting of the BJP legislature party, that was supposed to take place today in the presence of the party’s central leaders and elect a new leader, had to be cancelled in the wake of majority of the MLAs rallying behind Yeddyurappa. No future date for the meeting has been given as yet.

While it appeared yesterday that Yeddyurappa would not be able to muster much support from the BJP legislators after being asked by the party’s central leadership to resign, the scene changed dramatically today when large number of MLAs, MPs and MLCs gathered at the CM’s official residence to lend their support to him.

The loyalist MLAs, MPs and MLCs held a noisy demonstration when Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, the two emissaries sent by the party’s high command to Bangalore to ensure a smooth change of leadership in Karnataka, came to the CM’s official residence to persuade Yeddyurappa to resign.

According to Renukacharya, Karnataka excise minister and a supporter of Yeddyurappa, 75 out of 121 BJP MLAs of Karnataka, 16 Karnataka MPs and 21 MLCs are present at the CM’s official residence and they want Yeddyurappa to continue as the CM. There were initially 20 MLAs at the CM’s residence. The number grew steadily as the day progressed.

Chandre Gowda, BJP MP from Bangalore, was the first to air his support openly for Yeddyurappa this morning. “Karnataka BJP MPs are of the unanimous opinion that Yeddyurappa should not resign. He is not an individual. He is an institution as the CM. He should have taken the opinion of all elected representatives. We appeal to the high command to reconsider”, Gowda said and added, “the Lokayukta report has lost its sanctity - it leaked”. Many others ministers and MLAs, including industry minister Murugesh Nirani, MLAs Vishwanath, Harish and others spoke in favour of retaining Yeddyurappa.

Before proceeding to meet Yeddyurappa, Jaitley and Rajnath Singh first had a round of meeting with local BJP leaders, including contenders for the CM’s post — K Easwarappa, Sadananda Gowda and Jagdish Shettar. But BJP legislators, who are standing by the high command’s decision, are clearly in a minority.

However, the Congress mocked the BJP central leaders for handing their ‘remote control’ to Yeddyurappa. Mocking the BJP helplessness, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi alleged that its leaders are so indebted to Yeddyurappa that he seems to command them through remote control and suggested that “a thorough probe is needed to investigate what powers Yeddyurappa holds over the central leaders. We heard Yeddyurappa has been asked to resign, he is resigning, he shall resign, he may resign and he will resign. But so far he hasn’t resigned. Instead he is setting his preconditions; what time he will resign and who will be his successor and the BJP seems to be succumbing to his pressure without hesitation.”

But the BJP has given a clear hint in New Delhi that his consent both in terms of time and person will play an important role in choosing his successor. Meanwhile, BJP sources conceded that Ananth Kumar is a serious candidate this time round and the central leadership is not averse if Kumar can muster sufficient numbers. However, it was also evident that the party wont take the risk of ignoring Yeddyurappa’s views who will try his best to prevent Ananth Kumar from getting elected.

Yeddyurappa had reluctantly agreed to send his resignation to BJP president Nitin Gadkari yesterday. He said he would be officially submitting his resignation to Governor HR Bharadwaj on July 31. While the 68-year-old CM, architect of the BJP’s first electoral victory in a southern state, cited some astrological reasons for postponing his resignation, the real reason behind this was apparently that he wanted to buy time to mobilise his supporters. That strategy has turned out to be a spectacular success.





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