Bangalore, July 29: A rebellion of sorts broke out in BJP in Karnataka today with Yeddyurappa loyalists pressing the high command to allow him to continue as Chief Minister, claiming he has the support of over half the party MLAs and MPs.
In what appears to be a show of strength by 68-year-old B S Yeddyurappa that could delay electing his successor, his camp legislators told the party's central observers Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley that it should reconsider the decision asking him to resign. The observers were told that the opinion of individual MLAs must be ascertained.
As Yeddyurappa continued to be a rallying point for his loyalists upset over his exit, the BJP Legislature party meeting scheduled for today has been put off amid reports that Yeddyurappa is pressing hard that the next chief minister should be his nominee.
“75 MLAs, 15 Lok Sabha MPs, three Rajya Sabha MPs, 20 MLCs want Yeddyurappa as leader,” claimed Rajya Sabha MP Prabhakar Kore, adding they want the high command to allow BJP's first chief minister in the South to continue in his post. BJP has 121 MLAs in a House of 224.
Some of the legislators also openly demanded that Yeddyurappa be made the president of the state unit of BJP and that he should choose his successor.
Rajnath and Jaitley also met Yeddyurappa at his residence in a bid to convince him on the need for a smooth change in guard with the Monsoon session of Parliament just couple of days away when issues relating to corruption are expected to be high on the agenda.
Singh asserted efforts were underway to elect a new leader by “consensus”.
“A majority of MLAs, MLCs and Lok Sabha members are with Yeddyurappa. Yeddyurappa is our leader”, loyalist Minister M P Renukacharya said. “We appeal to the central leaders to continue with Yeddyurappa (as Chief Minister)”.
Before the developments unfolded here, Yeddyurappa, who reluctantly agreed to resign yesterday following the high command's decision in the wake of his severe indictment by the Lokayukta in the illegal mining scam, said he will be officially submitting his resignation to Governor H R Bharadwaj on July 31.
In his first comments after keeping the party on tenterhooks, Yeddyurappa said in a statement he had toiled for 40 years to build the party in Karnataka from scratch and it was his “committed desire” to work for its development in future also.
Yeddyurappa while breaking his silence after the party asked him to step down said he has agreed to resign as a “disciplined worker” of BJP.
Senior party leader M Venkaiah Naidu and in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka Dharmendra Pradhan also held consultations on the issue of electing a new leader.
As the developments unfolded, a section of MLAs met at the residence of Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy, some others at the Chief Minister's, while a few more at the party office where Eshwarappa and Ananth Kumar were present.
Naidu said the election process is going to be a smooth affair and the new Chief Minister would most probably take office on August one, after Yeddyurappa submits his resignation on July 31.
The names doing the rounds are State BJP president K S Eshwarappa, Lok Sabha MP Sadanand Gowda, Higher Education Minister V S Acharya, Law and Justice Minister Suresh Kumar S, party national general secretary and MP Ananth Kumar, Rural Development minister Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat leader and Yeddyurappa's close associate and minister Shoba Karandlaje.
D B Chandre Gowda, an MP said, “Karnataka BJP MPs are of the unanimous opinion that Yeddyurappa should not resign.
He is not an individual. He is an institution as CM. He should have taken the opinion of all elected representatives. We appeal to the high command to reconsider.”
Gowda also said, “The Lokayukta report has lost its sanctity—it leaked.”
Housing Minister V Somanna said, “You all know he has said he will resign on 31st. But it is not the right time. Lok Sabha MPs have expressed their opinion. Deve Gowda has said his party won't survive if Yeddyurappa stays for another two years as CM.”
Another MLA S R Vishwanath, said: “We have pressed them (observersto allow Yeddyurappa to continue”.
He said Rajnath and Jaitley asked the MLAs to give their opinion individually but “we told them we will give it together”.
As the central leaders left the Chief Minister's Race Course residence, there were scenes of jubilation among the Yeddyurappa camp as some of the Ministers and MLAs loyal to him flashed signs of victory.
Sanjay Patil, MLA, said the legislators told the two leaders about the huge contribution of Yeddyurappa in building the party.
He said removing Yeddyurappa would amount to “playing into the hands of the opposition parties (Congress and JDS).
B P Harish, MLA, said the legislators told the two central leaders in “one voice” that the decision asking Yeddyurappa's resignation without consulting them has hurt them.
He alleged that the Lokayukta report on illegal mining was motivated and a “conspiracy” to dislodge Yeddyurappa. PTI