Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Sunday said that a decision on whether he will continue in office or not will be known by tonight or Monday morning, PTI reported.
Earlier, the chief minister said that the Bharatiya Janata Party high command was likely to decide on leadership change by Sunday evening. But, he told reporters in Bengaluru that he was yet to receive any official communication on the rumors of his replacement.
“I will work for the party day and night for the next 10-15 years,” Yediyurappa said on Sunday evening. “Let there be no doubt about it.”
He added that he will speak about the achievements of his government at a function, as planned earlier, on Monday morning. “After that, other things you will come to know,” the chief minister said.
As the uncertainty continues in Karnataka, BJP President JP Nadda ruled out any leadership crisis in the state.
“Yediyurappa has done good work,” he told reporters in Goa. “Karnataka is doing well. Yediyurappa is taking care of things in his own way.”
There are speculations that Yediyurappa will resign as the chief minister of the state. However, he has maintained that he has not been asked to do so, but will step down if the central leadership decides to remove him.
Rifts within the Karnataka unit of the BJP have come to the fore in recent weeks. A section of MLAs has been critical of the chief minister’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis and alleged instances of corruption.
On Thursday, the chief minister had given a date regarding the leadership change.
“There is an event on July 26 on completion of two years of our government here [in Bengaluru],” he had said. “After this, I will follow whatever [BJP president] JP Nadda will decide. You all know that two months ago I had said I would resign to make way for someone else. Whether I am in power or not, it is my duty to bring back the BJP to power. I urge party workers and seers to cooperate.”
Yediyurappa had also appealed to his colleagues in the BJP on Wednesday to “not indulge in protest and indiscipline” amid pressure over exit rumours. “...It is my utmost honour to serve the party with [the] highest standards of ethics and behaviour,” he had tweeted.
It was, however, not immediately clear if the message was meant for the dissidents within the BJP calling for his removal, or the chief minister’s supporters who might stage protests if he was asked to quit.
On Sunday, when asked if a Dalit leader would be made the chief minister, Yediyurappa again responded that the decision will be taken by the saffron party’s high command.
Earlier on Friday, Leader of Opposition and former Chief Minister Siddarmaiah had urged the BJP to elect a Dalit leader as the next chief minister. He had alleged that the party was otherwise against the community if not for some statements made by a few leaders, including state BJP chief Nalin Kumar Kateel.
On Lingayat seers planning to hold a conclave in Bengaluru to support him, the chief minister said that they do not need to do it as he has confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president JP Nadda.
The political crisis
Last week, a purported audio clip on a possible “leadership change” in the state was widely shared on social media. The voice on the clip resembled that of Kateel, who denied the claim.
On Monday, state MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal said that the party’s central leadership will soon pick a new chief minister for Karnataka who is “honest, pro-Hindu and capable of bringing the BJP back to power”. Yatnal, one of the strongest voices in the anti-Yediyurappa camp had earlier in July called him “inactive” and asked him to retire respectfully.
Last week, he along with his son met multiple top party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief JP Nadda. After the meetings, the chief minister dismissed speculations about his resignation.
Reports suggest that the party’s central leadership has asked Yediyurappa to decide whether he wants to resign.
On two successive days on Tuesday and Wednesday, the chief minister met several spiritual leaders from across the state. Reports said that the meetings were meant to be a political message to the BJP leadership and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on the support Yediyurappa enjoys among the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which makes up for 16% of the state’s population.