Closed-door meetings, a near rebellion, and then a hasty compromise. A day after he offered to resign, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa fought to ensure that his resignation would be on his own terms, and not the party’s.
In protracted negotiations at his residence with two central BJP leaders, Mr Arun Jaitley and former party president Rajnath Singh, he held out for an honourable exit that would see him place either himself or one of his nominees as the BJP’s state chief as well as allow him to pick his successor as chief minister.
As the closed-door meeting collapsed without a clear understanding on whether the CM or the party leadership should decide his successor, a combative BSY lined up 75 MLAs, 13 MLCs, and 16 MPs to plead his cause. As matters came to a head amid reports of angry legislators threatening to break away if the CM was not given a chance to pick his successor and safeguard their collective interest, the CM dispatched two emissaries to confer with Mr Jaitley and Mr Singh.
In his message, sent through ministers Basavaraj Bommai and Shobha Karandlaje, BSY said he stood by the assurance he had given to the party parliamentary board, that he would step down, specifying that it would be at 12.42 pm on Sunday.
While this came as a huge relief to the party, which had been bracing for a Yeddyurappa-led rebellion of the core Lingayat group that makes up the backbone of the party in Karnataka, BSY is said to have also scaled back his own demand, agreeing to one of his “men” being appointed deputy chief minister if the party leadership was averse to his nominee being named as chief CM.
BSY’s camp, which claimed the support of 75 MLAs, including the Reddy group, however, saw some desertions with the arrival in the city of BSY’s arch-rival, party general secretary Ananth Kumar, who by Friday evening had brought the Reddy mine barons into his grouping as well as powerful state party chief and known BSY-baiter K.S Eshwarappa and Kumar acolyte from Hubli Jagadish Shettar, and another trusted heavyweight, R. Ashok, with whom he held parallel meetings at the party office.
BSY’s camp, mostly Lingayats, is concerned that the Brahmin Ananth Kumar’s ascent to the chief ministership will end their careers. Ananth Kumar is said to have the backing of bigwigs in New Delhi.
The BSY camp’s legislators had some cause to celebrate as by late Friday evening party president Nitin Gadkari had indicated that he was willing to concede their demand that BSY should be asked to take over as state party chief if, in return, he gave up his demand for Mr Sadananda Gowda as CM and Ms Karandlaje as deputy CM.
The actual selection of a new leader, however, will only take place after Mr Yeddyurappa submits his resignation. The legislature party meeting will therefore take place after he submits his papers.
Mr Jaitley and Mr Singh requested the legislators to participate in the legislature party meeting on Sunday, to which the legislators reportedly said, “We have a united voice. We have no differences among ourselves. You should appoint the nominee of chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.”
During the meeting, Mr Yeddyurappa’s supporters also made it clear that the high command should not thrust its views on legislators and that leaders should be elected at the legislature party meeting. The observers left Mr Yeddyurappa’s residence without committing themselves.
The central leaders said, however, that if the BSY camp did not stand down, a whip would be issued and all those who defied it would face disciplinary action.
* CM announces again that he will resign on July 31.
* He is upset with central leaders for not allowing him to explain himself to them when he met them in New Delhi.
He had requested the BJP central leaders not to ask for his resignation in public. However, they adopted a resolution in the parliamentary board meeting. This upset the chief minister the most.
* His demand: D.V. Sadananda Gowda be made CM and he himself be made state unit president.
* Ananth Kumar should not be made CM. Asian Age