Hours after hinting that he would resign, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has said that he would continue to tour the state and ensure the BJP retains Karnataka in the 2023 Assembly polls and also wins 25 seats in 2024 General Elections.
Yediyurappa told reporters that there is no message from the party high command yet on anything.
“I am still awaiting for their directions on July 25 (Sunday evening). Everything will be cleared on that day (Sunday),” he said, adding that he will abide by the party high command’s decision.
He added that he was mentally prepared for both scenarios (continuing as well as resigning from the CM’s post) as everything depends on the party’s decision on July 25.
“What is pressure? I had offered to quit from the CM’s post two months ago. So there is no pressure neither am I tense,” he said.
He reiterated that he had offered to quit almost two months ago, which is known to everyone (his June 6 statement). “That day (June 6), I had offered to quit. I have neither placed any demand nor suggested any name for the CM’s post. It’s their choice,” he said.
“As long as the party high command wishes me to continue as CM, I will continue… the day they say I should put in my papers… without even battling my eyelid, I will put in my papers. That is what I have said in the past and will continue to say now too,” he said.
He said that he will perform his duty as the Chief Minister till the very last minute by convening meetings, going on inspections and all other administrative work without any hesitation.
Yediyurappa also said that even if the party high command seeks his input on this matter (of his successor), he would not be giving any suggestion this time.
“Our central leaders are capable enough to find an alternative and there is no dearth of capable leaders in Karnataka too. So, the question of my suggesting any successor to them will not arise… even if it arises, I will not suggest,” he said.
Refused to drawn into the issue that his successor should be from Lingayat community, Yediyurappa said that he has not even suggested which caste his successor should belong to.
About his grand plans for celebrating two years in power, he said that the government is planning to bring out a detailed booklet of achievements, which highlight success stories of last two years.
“All departments have progressed under my stewardship. Therefore, each department will publish success stories,” he said, adding that it will be a gala event where everyone will be enjoying.
In 2008, Yediyurappa became first-ever BJP Chief Minister in south India, after leading the BJP to a victory in the Assembly elections.
However, he resigned in 2011 after being indicted over a corruption case but was acquitted in 2016.
Owing to alleged ill-treatment meted out to him by the party, he left the BJP in 2012 and formed his own party, the Karnataka Janata Paksha and decimated the BJP in 2013 Assembly polls. However, in 2014, he was back in the BJP’s fold, winning the Lok Sabha elections from the Shivamogga constituency, but quit after being elected to the Assembly in May 2018 elections.
He is also considered to be chief architect of ‘Operation Kamala’, a term coined in 2008, when then minister G. Janardhana Reddy used a method bypassing the anti-defection law to secure support from legislators, so as to take BJP past the majority number.
Yediyurappa unabashedly has defended ‘Operation Kamala’ on several occasions, asserting that it was not wrong and he never regretted it as it is a part of democracy.
Meanwhile, Yediyurappa has postponed the dinner party, to he held on July 25 for party legislators and senior leaders. Earlier, he had also cancelled a BJP legislators meeting scheduled on the same day to celebrate the completion of two years in office.
Sources in the party said that the decision to call off the dinner party was taken in the backdrop of talk of change of leadership in the state.
It is also thought that many legislators would refrain from attending the dinner party and change of leadership issue dominates the occasion of celebration of two years by the BJP government under the leadership of Yediurappa.
The Karnataka chief minister has also cancelled programmes organized in his home district, Shivamogga. Meanwhile, he is expected to take major decisions at the state cabinet meeting on Thursday evening.
It is said that Yediyurappa is now mentally prepared to give in to the pressure of the high command. Though major Veerashaiva-Lingayat seers’ delegation are parading to his official residence for two days, he is conveying the message to them that he should follow what party asks him to do.
Yediyurappa did not talk much during the interactions with seers and he is not even talking to the media. His appeal on Twitter to the followers not to indulge in protests at any political eventuality has sealed the fact that he is on exit mode and it is to be seen when this is going to happen.
Yediyurappa had visited Delhi last week and had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president J.P. Nadda.
His Delhi trip had triggered speculations that he is on the way out and the party central leadership is working on a succession plan.
“I am privileged to be a loyal worker of BJP. It is my utmost honour to serve the party with the highest standards of ethics and behaviour. I urge everyone to act in accordance with party ethics and not indulge in protests or indiscipline that is disrespectful and embarrassing for the party,” he said in a tweet in Kannada.
“The party is equivalent to my mother. The affection should not cross its limits. The disrespect towards the party would be too painful for me. I hope my well-wishers will understand my feelings in this regard,” he wrote.
Siddaganga Mutt seer Siddalinga Swami, who led a delegation of seers to meet Yediyurappa, said: “He (the CM) told us that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and party President J.P. Nadda have a special respect for him as they allowed no one who is aged above 75 but him to rule.”
“CM also said that he would work for the party until his last breath,” he added.
For the last three days, seers belonging to various communities including Veerashiva-Lingayats have been meeting and expressing their solidarity with him. A section of seers has even threatened that if the central leaders chose to replace Yediyurappa, then the BJP will pay a heavy price during forthcoming elections in the state.
More than 100 Veerashaiva-Lingayat seers, from the Mysuru region, expressed their unconditional support to the Chief Minister on Thursday, taking out a symbolic silent march from Kumara Krupa Guest House which is just 250 metres from Yediyurappa’s official residence Cauvery here.
“We wish the Chief Minister completes his full term, as, during his previous stint, he had to resign midway. The seers unequivocally support his continuation,” said one of these pontiffs, who met the Chief Minister at his residence.
The mobilisation of support for Yediyurappa from Veerashaiva-Lingayat seers and the All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha, cutting across party lines, is learnt to have made the party leadership anxious.
“The Lingayat vote base is key for the party’s prospects in the state and it is not ready to antagonise the community. The party wants to effect generational change in a peaceful manner and give Yediyurappa an honourable exit,” a senior BJP leader said. (IANS)