Even as BS Yediyurappa continues to deny the news of his resignation, which surfaced on Saturday, 17 July, the Karnataka chief minister may soon be given a "dignified exit" with a governorship in waiting. Discussions are on about offering Yediyurappa governorship of either Maharashtra or Telangana, sources in the Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unit told The Quint.
A day after Yediyurappa's meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 16 July, rumours were rife within Karnataka political circles that the chief minister has tendered his resignation.
The Quint had reported in June that the BJP has signalled an exit for Yediyurappa and is on the lookout for a strong contender to fill his shoes.
Bargaining is Ongoing: BJP Sources
According to a senior BJP leader, Yediyurappa's exit "is only a matter of time." The chief minister, who has been facing dissidents in the state for months now, is still busy bargaining with the BJP high command.
"He is a senior leader the party values. He is well within his right to make a pick and bargain for plum postings for himself and his loyalists," the party's national leader said.
What is currently on offer is a governorship, plum posting for his son BY Vijayendra and a significant position within the party, the source said.
"There is a possibility for Tamilisai Soundararajan to be made full-time Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. So, her post as Governor of Telangana could be filled by Yediyurappa. However, Maharashtra governorship too is being discussed," the source said.
Another BJP leader confirmed, "Governorship is on offer and so is a post for his son Vijayendra. In the future, he may even get a Cabinet berth."
Meanwhile, the chief minister whose family is mired in misappropriation charges, will be given a respite.
"Yediyurappa does not want to resign and go into political retirement. He wants to remain active," a senior BJP leader told The Quint.
Given that the CM had expressed his willingness to step down in June, the news of his formal resignation should not come as a surprise to his supporters, sources said.
MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal has been a vocal critic of Yediyurappa in recent times. State tourism minister CP Yogeshwar and Hubli-Dharwad MLA Arvind Bellad have also spoken out against him.
The CM, however, does have unfinished business, especially when it comes to Mekedatu project.
Mekedatu Project, a Parting Demand?
On 3 July, Yediyurappa sent a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin explaining Karnataka's need to construct a dam project on Cauvery river at Mekedatu.
Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Kerala – states that benefit from the Cauvery river – have been opposing Karnataka's move ever since.
On 17 July, amid rumours of his resignation, the CM said he had discussed the Mekedatu project with the prime minister. Now, it is being speculated that the insistence on Mekedatu project is Yediyurappa's way of showing off his clout within the BJP ranks.
"He wants the project to be sanctioned even though the Ministry of Jal Shakti has denied permission, pending a detailed project report. It has become a prestige issue for the CM," a source revealed.
But if his exit is near, why insist on the project?
Yediyurappa has been the BJP's warhorse in Karnataka. He is perhaps the only leader who could command respect from dominant communities, including Lingayats and Vokkaligas. However, his political clout was affected when his family members were accused of interfering with the state's governance.
Mekedatu project's success could earn him back the support of his loyalists, who would in turn continue to support his sons – BY Vijayendra and BY Raghavendra, sources said.
The BJP, however, is in no mood to heed to Yediyurappa's demands.
Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has promised Tamil Nadu that the project will not executed without the consent of the Cauvery Water Management Authority.
"The party will not entertain his big demands for the state. He will have to reinvent his political relevance by holding on to whatever is offered by the (pary) high command," a miffed BJP leader said.
Meanwhile, Yediyurappa may have to follow the "acceptable" path of stepping down, sources said.
The Way to Step Down
According to sources, in his meet with Prime Minister Modi, the CM expressed his willingness to step down citing "health reasons."
"It is a time-tested line and the PM has accepted this way of ending the term. The CM, however, clung on and requested for an extension of one month to set things in order," a source said. Now, the formal resignation could come any moment, BJP sources predict.
On Saturday, the CM also met BJP President JP Nadda. "I have not resigned," he reiterated after the meeting.
In a more detailed statement issued later during the day, the CM said his discussions with the PM and the BJP chief were about the future of BJP in Karnataka.
"Their request was that we should bring back BJP to power. I have given that assurance. For now, they have given me the responsibility to lead the party," he said.
BJP sources, however, suggest that Yediyurappa will not be the party's face for the 2023 Assembly elections. Late on Saturday night, the CM announced that he will call for a BJP legislature party meeting on 26 July. As per the sources, the occasion will be used to announce his resignation.