New Delhi, Mar 22: The BJP was in an absolute bind over reinstatement of B S Yeddyurappa as Karnataka Chief Minister and appears to have bought time till the month-end to take a decision in the interest of smooth sailing of the budget in the State Assembly.
Amid signs that a sizeable section of the party leadership may be inclined to reinstate Yeddyurappa, incumbent Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda got a breather with party president Nitin Gadkari deciding that he has to consult senior leaders before he takes a decision.
Both Gowda and Yeddyurappa had a series of meetings with the BJP top brass in the capital including Gadkari, who is facing intense pressure from the former chief minister for giving the top job back to him.
Sources said the party was caught between the popularity of Yeddyurappa among its ranks and the influence he has in the legislature party and the corruption charges against him still pending in the form of Lokayukta cases.
Also, while the Karnataka High Court has quashed the Lokayukta report against him in the mining scam, the party is worried that a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the High Court judgement.
That may also be one of the factors before the leaders decide on reinstatement of Yeddyurappa. BJP said today that all concerned must maintain strict party discipline even as Gowda spoke of a “small turbulence” which is a matter of concern.
Yeddyurappa said he was confident that the party leadership will take the “right decision”.
Emerging from a long meeting with Gadkari and central leaders including General Secretaries Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dharmendra Pradhan and Ramlal, Yeddyurappa said, “I am happy with the outcome of the meeting...I am confident that party president and the party will take the right decision in the interest of the party and the people of Karnataka.”
Yeddyurappa claimed that Gadkari had conveyed to him that he will take an “appropriate decision” in the light of his request that he be reinstated as Chief Minister after the Karnataka High Court gave him a clean chit in a graft case.
The Lingayat strongman met Gadkari after Gowda and state unit president K Eshwarappa had met the party president.
Significantly, while Gowda unilaterally announced to the media that he had been assured by the party high command that there will be no change of leadership “at present” in Karnataka government, Yeddyurappa was accompanied by Pradhan who is in-charge of the state when he made his statement.
Party sources said Yeddyurappa has been asked to have patience for some more time. The Central leadership apparently does not want to precipitate matters in the ruling party till the conclusion of the Budget session of the Karnataka Assembly on March 30.
“There is no leadership change... This issue is not there, there is no change of leadership. We will continue as it is,” Gowda told reporters after meeting senior BJP leaders here.
Asked if the party leadership had asked him to step down, Gowda said, “That question does not arise.”
On reports that top BJP leaders have reconciled to reinstating Yeddyurappa, Gowda said there is “no such direction from the Centre or Central leaders whom we met today...”
Prasad said, “Gadkari will take an appropriate decision in consultation with the central leadership. He has also advised all parties concerned to maintain strict party discipline.”
BJP's humiliating defeat in the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha by-election by a huge margin of 45,724 votes also came up for discussion during Gadkari's separate meetings with Gowda, Yeddyurappa, Eshwarappa and Karnataka minister Jagdish Shettar.