Assam, Uttarakhand, And Now, Karnataka: CM Yediyurappa May Resign Within 30 Days
Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa is likely to quit between 26 July and 25 August, BJP sources told The Quint.
Seldom does Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa smile or laugh in public. He's known to keep his emotions to himself. Therefore, on 17 July, when he dismissed media queries on his reported resignation saying, "There is no truth in it, not at all," there was more to it than a simple denial.
According to BJP sources, Yediyurappa may step down within a matter of days. The Karnataka chief minister is expected to hang up his boots any day between 26 July and 15 August, sources told The Quint.
After Uttar Pradesh, Came Karnataka's Turn
Uncertainty around the date of resignation is on account of the Karnataka chief minister's religious beliefs, sources clarified.
A deeply religious person who believes in numerology, Yediyurappa might prefer to wait for the Ashada month (which is considered inauspicious) to end on 8 August.
The chief minister has also convened a legislature party meeting on 26 July, which the MLAs, particularly those gunning for his post, have been asking for long.
The BJP high command's decision to consider Yediyurappa's replacement comes close on the heels of the party's Karnataka in-charge Arun Singh's denial of any leadership change in the state.
BJP legislators, who have been demanding Yediyurappa's resignation, were, however, hopeful that Karnataka would be next in the party high command's agenda after the Union cabinet expansion. The party could deal with Karnataka only after calming dissidents in Uttar Pradesh, it was widely known in Karnataka party circles.
What Did Prime Minister Modi and Yediyurappa Talk About?
It was learnt, during the 10-minute meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Yediyurappa initially requested the party to allow him to complete full term. Legislative Assembly elections in Karnataka are due in 2023.
PM Modi, however, is said to have told Yediyurappa that all party leaders have to make way for the younger generation. This, even as the former acknowledged his "good work" in the state.
The chief minister is then said to have offered to resign on 'health grounds'.
After which PM Modi is said to have told him, "Aap panch minute baith ke jaayiye'' (Please sit for five minutes before you leave).
During his meeting with other leaders, the chief minister was asked to take responsibility of strengthening the party and winning all the upcoming elections. The party had fared badly in the urban local bodies polls where the BJP was pushed to the third position. In the by-elections held in May, the BJP had won the Belagavi Lok Sabha seat by a wafer-thin margin and lost the Maski Assembly constituency, where it had fielded a turncoat, to the Congress.
Amit Shah Clinched the Deal?
In the 24 hours Yediyurappa spent in New Delhi on 16-17 July, he had met all the top bosses in the BJP who have the final say in his continuance or exit.
After his talks with PM Modi, BJP National President JP Nadda, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Yediyurappa was on his way to the airport to board the special flight without meeting Home Minister Amit Shah when he got a call from the latter.
BJP sources said the meeting with Amit Shah clinched the deal. Yediyurappa's impending exit was clear after the same.
Reaching Bengaluru late on 17 July, the chief minister who had earlier shrugged off speculations of his resignation, sang a different tune.
"I reiterate there is no dearth of leaders and for now I have been given the responsibility. I have been asked to continue for now. We have to do what the leadership says. I have assured them we will work together to win more seats in the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls,'' he maintained.
Yediyurappa also called for the legislature party meeting in the same media meet.
A Smooth Transition Expected
Sources said the BJP leadership wants to ensure a smooth transition of power in Karnataka on the lines of Uttarakhand and Assam where the then chief ministers were called to New Delhi to obtain resignation letters.
"This is the best time for the party to effect the leadership change as there are no elections happening anytime soon. Even the ones due in the BBMP – or Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike – and the panchayats have been put off to next year due to the pandemic,'' a source said.
The central leadership is also confident that Yediyurappa will not create any hurdles for the party this time unlike in 2012 when he severed links with the BJP to float the Karnataka Janata Paksha.
The outfit dented the prospects of the BJP reducing its strength from 110 to 40 seats in the 2013 Assembly polls. Besides, the future of his two sons –Shivamogga Lok Sabha MP BY Raghavendra and Karnataka BJP Vice-President BY Vijayendra – is of utmost value for Yediyurappa. Their future cannot be secured without keeping the party high command's confidence.
The Quint had earlier reported that discussions are on about offering Yediyurappa governorship of either Maharashtra or Telangana. Even a post for his son Vijayendra is on offer – and the negotiations are on.
Yediyurappa's absence will also not antagonise the Lingayats, who have stood by the BJP for years, as the Panchamasali sub-sect leaders have already snubbed him.
For Yediyurappa, retaining power has always been difficult. He was the chief minister for a week in 2007, for three and a half years in 2008, and for three days in 2018. In 2021, would he be denied a chance to complete two years in office?
Naheed Ataulla is a senior journalist based in Bengaluru. She worked as political editor of The Times of India.
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