Two of Yeddyurappa’s staunch loyalists – Excise Minister M P Renukacharya and Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani – openly demanded that the BJP high command make the former chief minister the state party chief. Sources said it is Yeddyurappa’s tack not to openly express his political desires and instead prompts loyalists speak on his behalf.
Speaking to reporters, Yeddyurappa said some leaders within the party conspired against him and sent him to jail for no reason. "I have not done anything wrong. I will come out victorious when all five cases are heard. I have undergone a lot of change while in jail and I will be alert in the coming days," he said. He, however, did not reveal the names of those who conspired against him.
Yeddyurappa, who had unsuccessfully bargained with the high command for the party post while resigning as chief minister a few months ago, has decided to again take up the issue seriously. Taking charge of the reins of the party in the State is an immediate priority for the former chief minister as it will help him consolidate his position, especially as the leader of the powerful Lingayat community, sources said.
Party sources said Yeddyurappa consultated his loyalists over the issue Tuesday evening, after his release from jail, and took a decision to mount pressure on the party high command in the coming days. To begin with, sources said, he would start touring the State and try to demonstrate his popularity to the party leaders in Delhi.
Sriramulu quits primary membership
Former minister B Sriramulu has severed ties with the BJP by tendering resignation to the primary membership of the party and also entering the Bellary rural by-poll fray as an Independent candidate. While quitting the party, he blamed the State party leaders for having neglected and humiliated him. He has also sought the blessings of the BJP to win the seat. Till late Wednesday evening, the BJP had not finalised its candidate to take on Sriramulu. Similar was the situation of the Congress, while the JD(S) may not field anyone for the contest.Unlike his grip over the party-government led by Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, Yeddyurappa does not wield much control over the State BJP which is headed by his long-time political foe K S Eshwarappa. Moreover, State party Organising Secretary Santosh is said to have identified himself with Yeddyurappa’s bete noire Ananth Kumar’s camp.
A majority of district-level organising secretaries are said to be Kumar's men. As a result, Kumar still calls the shots in the State party. Yeddyurappa wants to dismantle Kumar's network and install his own men in key positions. Being the party chief will also help him issue tickets to loyalists during elections, sources said.
Speaking to reporters in front of Yeddyurappa’s Race Course residence, Renukacharya said Yeddyurappa was the only mass leader of the party in Karnataka. Renukacharya said Yeddyurappa has toiled for 40 years to bring the party to power and, therefore, he should be made the State party chief.
When Renukacharya’s attention was drawn to Eshwarappa’s statement that the party does not give top posts to tainted leaders, Renukacharya shot back: “I challenge Eshwarappa to prove that Yeddyurappa is a tainted leader. Yeddyurappa is only facing some false charges and nothing has been proved yet.”
Nirani too said Yeddyurappa has great organising ability and hence the party should make him the State president. However, Yeddyurappa himself has not expressed his desire to be the party president.
In a show of strength, Yeddyurappa flexed his political muscle when nearly 50 MLAs, including seven ministers, and MPs, joined him in his visit to Siddaganga Mutt in Tumkur. While denying that he has any plans to launch a new party, Yeddyurappa said: "I will not quit the BJP. Why Should I?...I have built the party for 40 years and I will continue to work for it in the coming days."
He said he will shortly start touring the State and work towards strengthening the party. Sources close to him said that his supporters will organise a mammoth rally in Bangalore on November 20. Later, similar rallies will be held in Mysore, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Davangere and other places.