Exit talks centred on Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa have gained momentum. On July 25, a day ahead of the BJP Legislature Party meeting, the CM plans to host a lunch for senior officials and his secretariat staff.
Media reports quoted an unnamed official in the Chief Minister’s office as saying that Yediyurappa also intends to organize a lunch for BJP MLAs, followed by a photo session in the Vidhana Soudha. This has prompted speculation that Yediyurappa’s time in office could be coming to an end.
The CM is said to have told a delegation of pontiffs on Tuesday (July 20) that he will have to accept the decision taken by the BJP central leadership. “All that Yediyurappa said was that he’ll have to accept the (BJP) high command’s decision. He said he won’t say more,” Balehosur Dingaleshwar Swamy, who led the delegation, told the media after meeting Yediyurappa. “When we pressed, Yediyurappa refused to divulge details.”
“Yediyurappa is the CM because he’s a good leader. It’s about his leadership, his capability,” the Dingaleshwar seer said. “In another couple of days, we will mobilize 500 seers for a meeting where we will take a stand. If the high command isn’t interested in keeping the BJP in power, they can change Yediyurappa. They will face the consequences,” he warned.
There has been speculation about the leadership change in Karnataka ever since Yediyurappa’s return from Delhi last week. He had described the visit as a success and dismissed the talks that he would step down. He also asserted that the BJP leadership has given him the responsibility to lead the party in the 2023 assembly polls.
A section of BJP leaders in the state believes that the CM would announce his decision to quit at the July 26 meeting. But Yediyurappa loyalists insist he would stay on. “He is a fighter and would not go so easily,” ToI quoted a senior BJP leader.
Surprisingly, Yediyurappa has received support from some Congress members. Former Water Resources Minister MB Patil asked the BJP to treat the CM with respect. “The BJP would face the wrath of the Lingayats if it ill-treats a senior leader like Yediyurappa. The BJP should value his contribution and treat him with dignity,” Patil tweeted.
The Veerashaiva-Lingayat community is estimated to form about 16 per cent of Karnataka’s population and is considered BJP’s core support base. Yediyurappa belongs to this community.