Karnataka chief minister B.S.Yeddyu-rappa’s march to Raj Bhavan at the head of some 70-odd supporters as he handed in his resignation was meant to signal that, chief minister or not, he still packed a punch in the party’s state unit.
But his gambit to publicly anoint his nominee as successor before the top BJP leadership announced D.V. Sadananda Gowda as the new chief minister at a legislature party meet scheduled later Sunday backfired as CM hopeful Ananth Kumar and state party chief K.S. Eshwarappa strongly protested against the move, insisting that the new chief minister should either be Mr Kumar or Mr Jagadish Shettar.
In an acrimonious encounter, Mr Yeddyu-rappa shot down all the demands made by Mr Kumar, who demanded deputy CM posts for his troika. Mr Yeddyurappa also reportedly raised the alleged links of Mr Kumar with Niira Radia, which infuriated the Bengaluru MP. An angry exchange followed as the Delhi emissaries tasked with ensuring a smooth transition finally set August 3 as the deadline for the BJP legislature party session to elect a new chief minister.
BJP in-charge for Karnataka Dharmendra Pradhan said the meeting would take place at 11 am on Wednesday.
Mr Yeddyurappa, who had postponed his meeting with governor H.R. Bhardwaj several times in the day, only arrived at Raj Bhavan at 3.45 pm to hand in his much-awaited resignation after he thought he had wrung a promise from Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and former BJP president Rajnath Singh that Mr Gowda would succeed him.
Instead, the Delhi emissaries went into a huddle with national general secretary Ananth Kumar and Mr Eshwarappa after the duo made it clear they opposed Mr Gowda’s appointment.
Mr Yeddyurappa is said to have insisted that if he couldn’t have Mr Gowda, an MP and former state party chief, then he would not allow Mr Kumar, also an MP, to be made chief minister.
The meeting of the senior leaders started around 5.30 pm and went on for over four hours, with Mr Jaitley and Mr Singh struggling to find a consensus as both camps stuck to their stand. Mr Jagadish Shettar, a Lingayat and rural development minister, was proposed by the Ananth Kumar camp as chief minister, and they threatened to boycott the legislature party meeting if Mr Gowda, Udupi-Chikmagalur MP, were to be the new chief minister.
The Ananth Kumar camp said they would only agree if the deputy CM post went to three people — R. Ashok, Mr Eshwarappa and Mr Shettar — which was rejected outright by the Yeddyurappa camp, which countered this by saying that with a Vokkaliga community candidate, Mr Sadananda Gowda, in the CM’s seat, there was no need for another Vokkaliga, Mr Ashok, to be made his deputy. They also shot down the proposal to make Mr Eshwarappa deputy CM, saying he already held the powerful post of state party president.
Sources in the BJP said the Yeddyurappa faction — which claims to have the support of as many as 70 of the 121 BJP MLAs in the state, may get the better of the Ananth Kumar camp, which is likely to be persuaded by the central leaders to accept a compromise formula. This will see Mr Sadananda Gowda being installed as chief minister and Mr Shettar taking over as the only deputy CM, and Mr Eshwarappa continuing as state party chief for six months.
Mr Jaitley and Mr Singh were scheduled to catch a late night flight to New Delhi and had hoped to hold the BJP legislature party meeting at 7 pm before they left. But the meeting was postponed twice before it was finally cancelled.
With the deadlock, the selection of the new CM has been shelved until Wednesday. Party sources said the discussion will continue in New Delhi. If the central leaders arrive at a consensus, the legislature party meeting will be held to select a leader formally on August 3, sources said.
A big questionmark hangs over the survival of the new government. If Mr Yeddyurappa does not get his way, and with the support of not less than 35 MLAs, breaks away from the party, the government will collapse, paving the way for the imposition of President’s Rule, worried BJP insiders said.
The Congress has, meanwhile, made it clear it would not form a coalition government under any circumstances. “We are very clear. We will not form the government. Instead, we prefer to face elections,” said Karnataka PCC president G. Parameshwar.
The Congress is also meeting governor H.R. Bhardwaj on Monday, seeking to expedite the prosecution of Mr Yeddyurappa after he was indicted by the Lokayukta.
It is also being asked whether the outgoing chief minister’s overconfidence may have cost him dearly. Soon after handing over the resignation letter, Mr Yeddyurappa announced he had recommended the name of Mr D.V. Sadananda Gowda. And the CM’s camp was brimming with confidence that Mr Rajnath Singh had reportedly promised Mr Yeddyurappa that Mr Sadananda Gowda would be made the new CM.
Earlier in the day, Mr Yeddyurappa walked along with his supporters to Raj Bhavan and submitted his resignation to the governor. He was asked by the governor to continue in office till alternative arrangements were made.
In an emotional speech at a Balija community function before he laid down office, the CM blamed his rivals in the Opposition and the ruling party for harassing and haunting him from the day he assumed power in May 2008. Asian Age