The fate ofKarnataka Chief MinisterBS Yeddyurappa looks sealed with theBJP central leadership beginning the exercise to find a successor. Yeddyurappa flew back to Bangalore on Monday after vacationing in Mauritius, and made it clear that he would give in without putting up a fight.
At a news conference with his entire cabinet, Yeddyurappa refused to comment on theLokayukta Santosh Hegde’s yet-to-be released report implicating him on charges of corruption and nepotism, but said he would abide by the party leadership’s decision on the leadership issue.
BJP presidentNitin Gadkari, on his part, told newspersons here in New Delhi that his party will take a call on Yeddyurappa’s fate once the Lokayukta formally presented its report to the government on Wednesday. State BJP chief KS Eshwarappa, national General Secretary Ananth Kumar and state Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Jagdish Shettar have emerged as front-runners in chief ministerial race.
“I have spoken to the Karnataka chief minister. He has asked me to take a decision as party president on the issue and I will follow it. I have never taken a political decision based on perceptions. So, as soon as we get a copy of the Lokayukta report, and based on the charges made in it, the party will take appropriate action,” Gadkari said.
While BJP may be able to get rid of Yeddyurappa in view of the damning charges listed by Hegde in his report, finding his successor will be more difficult. The chief minister belongs to the numerically-significant Lingayat in Karnataka. The party brass will find it extremely difficult to replace Yeddyurappa with a non-Lingayat, as it could alienate the politically significant community.
Yeddyurappa may go out kicking and screaming, but not before ensuring that the BJP leadership would appoint a successor of his choice. Of the probable successors, Shettar is a Lingayat but may be unacceptable to Yeddyurappa as he has been spearheading the oust Yeddy campaign in the party. Former deputy prime minister LK Advani is said to be pitching for Ananth Kumar, but he suffers from the caste handicap and has no backing of MLAs.
He is also perceived to be quite controversial and not in Yeddyurppa’s good books. Eshwarappa belongs to the backward Kuruba caste. In Banglaore, Yeddyurappa said that he had written to the BJP president to constitute a committee to probe allegations levelled against him and his family members. The chief minister asked Gadkari to form a committee consisting of Venkaiah Naidu, Ananth Kumar and Dharmendra Pradhan to probe not only into the allegations but also look at the achievement of his government in the last three years.
Yeddyurappa appeared confident of tiding over the current crisis engulfing the BJP government in Karnataka. The Karnataka Lokayukta, probing into illegal mining of iron ore in the state, had confirmed that Yeddyurappa’s name figures in the yet to be released report. This has snowballed into a controversy, with many expecting the resignation of the chief minister. Economic Times