CM gets marching orders

Arun Jaitley asks Yeddyurappa to choose successor in 3 days

CM gets marching orders

 Out of focus: Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa talks to the media at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday.  PTI
Following his arrival here from Puttaparthi, which involved employing a combination of defiance, theatrics and chicanery, Yeddyurappa turned tone-deaf to demands for his resignation within the party, saying: “I have not been asked by anybody to resign”.

But this did not cut much ice with the central leadership, including senior leader Arun Jaitley, who made no bones about Yeddyurappa’s resignation.

Soon after Yeddyurappa landed here, he was told by party chief Nitin Gadkari to meet Jaitley and other leaders so he could try and convince them about his innocence. Gadkari, who left for Nagpur in the evening, is likely to meet Yeddyurappa on Tuesday.

Conspiracy

Earlier in the day it appeared that Yeddyurappa would get a reprieve after a divided central leadership thought he could get a second opportunity to explain his position relating to the land scams and other instances of financial indiscretions.

However, in an attempt to exert pressure on the party high command, a desperate Yeddyurappa had about 17 BJP parliamentarians from Karnataka complain to senior leaders that he was the target of machinations of some leaders, including general secretary Ananth Kumar, Dharwad North MP Prahlad Joshi and the Reddy brothers. As his defence, the chief minister is understood to have told senior leaders that some hostile BJP leaders from Karnataka were “conspiring” to oust him.

The wily chief minister also sought to send across a message to the BJP leadership that as a Lingayat he was indispensable to the party in Karnataka. To this end, three Lingayat seers held a press conference in Bangalore, claiming that the BJP would lose the support of the Lingayat community if the party high command forced Yeddyurappa’s ouster.

The fight back by Yeddyurappa–whose political standing had become perilously low when one scandal after another surfaced–appeared to have gained traction in the course of the day with the party high command which, till Sunday, could not take a firm stand on his resignation.

According to sources, the party’s top brass was divided on the course of action to follow since  Gadkari and two former presidents Rajnath Singh and M M Joshi were not averse to examining Yeddyurappa’s side of the story.

“These leaders wanted to give Yeddyurappa some more time and had even deferred taking a decision on his fate,”  sources said. But the call for his resignation grew more firm within his party as the evening wore on and his meeting with Jaitley lasted merely four minutes. The chief minister will stay put in Delhi for the next three days.

The national capital on Monday witnessed a flurry of activity with faction leaders lobbying hard and engaging in separate consultations with senior colleagues. Yeddyurappa loyalists were seen entering and exiting the rooms of top-rung BJP leaders to present his defence. The Yeddyurappa episode reflected in Parliament’s central hall with one BJP member from Karnataka openly speaking out against the chief minister and another staunchly defending him.

Before going into a huddle with party leaders early Monday eveing, the chief minister told newspersons that none in the BJP had asked him to quit. In a show of strength, Yeddyurappa met 17 party MPs from Karnataka and urged them to unitedly support him.

“I will not quit, come what may,” he is understood to have told the MPs and State ministers in a closed-door meeting at Karnataka Bhawan here.

On charges of irregularities in land allotment favouring his family members, Yeddyurappa said a judicial inquiry was already on in the matter.

Yeddyurappa arrived here from Puttaparthi after participating in the 85th birthday celebrations of Satya Sai Baba. He arrived here after flying with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Asked why he came along with the prime minister, Yeddyurappa explained that this happened because there was no other flight available from Puttaparthi.

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