Embattled Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who landed in Bengaluru airport after a week in Mauritius, told the waiting media that he would not step down.
“My government will complete its term and not dither on follow-up action on Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde’s final report on illegal mining,” he said on Monday. By afternoon, however, at an official press conference after he had spoken to BJP president Nitin Gadkari, he had changed his tone. Maintaining that he was an ordinary BJP worker, Mr Yeddyurappa announced, “Whatever decision that the party national president takes, I will abide by it.”
Exuding confidence at first, Mr Yeddyurappa assured reporters he would answer all queries thrown at him but then quickly cut short his interaction when asked why he had sought an internal probe into the charges of illegal gratification when he knew that court cases were pending against him. Before that he had explained in detail how he was lobbying for a ban on export of iron ore and to make value additions. He even got water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai to attack the JD(S) and Congress party.
On the leak of the Lokayukta report, he said, “The sanctity of the Lokayukta report will not be lost even if the report is leaked.” The CM said the government would certainly make serious efforts to implement the report after it was submitted.
In New Delhi, refusing to comment on Mr Yeddyurappa’s fate, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari on Monday said any decision on the issue will be taken only after the state Lokayukta report on illegal mining issue is officially submitted. When asked to comment on Mr Yeddyurappa’s assertion that he would not quit, Mr Gadkari said he had spoken to the Karnataka CM after the latter’s return from Mauritius on Monday. “I spoke to him and he (Yeddyurappa) told me that whatever decision I take on the issue as the party president, he would abide by it. However, any decision on this issue will be taken only after we go through Justice Hegde’s report,” said Mr Gadkari.
The Karnataka CM has also written a letter to Mr Gadkari seeking a probe by a party panel into various charges against him, including land allotment, in a bid to clear his name.
Insisting he had never taken any political decision based on perceptions, Mr Gadkari said, “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.”
Pressure is, meanwhile, mounting on the BJP central leadership to take action against the Karnataka CM who has been indicted by the Lokayukta report on the illegal mining.
Sources disclosed that after senior leader Shanta Kumar asked the party top brass why no action had been taken against Mr Yeddyurappa, other leaders have also started questioning the central leadership on the issue.
A majority section within the party feels Mr Yeddyurappa’s continuance will weaken the BJP’s fight against corruption.
Chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa might have put up a brave face on Monday while addressing the media but sources in the party said support for the CM is dwindling at the Centre and in the state. In a bid to demonstrate his strength, Mr Yeddyurappa gathered several ministers, MPs, city MLAs and chairmen of boards and corporations at the conference hall where he interacted with the media. Ministers like Jagadish Shettar, G. Karunakar Reddy and G. Janardhan Reddy, too, were present, giving the impression that Mr Yeddyurappa was the undisputed leader of the party.
However, sources in the party said such tactics might not help him if the high command decides to pull the plug. “The impression we get here is that Mr Yeddyurappa’s support has virtually disappeared in New Delhi. For the first time there is no central leader who can defend him in New Delhi in the party. Mr Yeddyurappa has not faced a situation like this in the last three years.”
The source added: “The worrying factor is not the charges of corruption levelled by the Opposition parties, it is his how he lurches from one controversy to another. The central leaders are tired of this. The central leaders have lost patience. Realising this, he did not go to New Delhi from Mauritius,” sources said.
Sources said the party might pull the plug on Mr Yeddyurappa. “The central leaders are worried about the party not expanding its base to other parts of south India. We have lost Rajasthan in the north. So, as a political party, the central leaders might think of retaining the state using the popularity of Mr Yeddyurappa and the Lingayat vote bank. If they give more weightage to this factor, they will retain him for six months or so and go for elections after that,” sources pointed out. Asian Age