Demand for the removal of Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa on Saturday emerged from within the BJP in the wake of the Lokayukta indicting him in his report on illegal mining in the state.
BJP vice-president and former in-charge of Karnataka Shanta Kumar has written a letter to party president Nitin Gadkari and senior leader LK Advani demanding that Yeddyurappa be removed immediately in the wake of his indictment by the Lokayukta.
"I have stated in my letter that due to Yeddyurappa's continuance in office, the image of the BJP throughout the country was getting tarnished. We have compromised long enough. We should not wait any longer and go for a change of leadership," Kumar told PTI.
Kumar, who is currently holidaying in Goa, said he could no longer bear reports about corruption in the Karnataka government and was forced to write this letter.
"When I was in-charge of Karnataka and the charges against Yeddyurappa were made the last time (of out-of-turn land allotment to his sons) I had suggested to the party to remove him. When this did not happen I asked to be freed of my responsibilities," Kumar said.
A senior BJP leader, preferring anonymity, said that so far Yeddyurappa has been able to hold onto his chair as there were no reports till now which would directly indict him and the earlier charges were mere allegations.
With the report of Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, which is likely to be submitted to the Karnataka chief secretary soon, Yeddyurappa's continuance could become untenable, the leader noted.
However, officially the BJP has been evading questions on Yeddyurappa's fate, saying it will respond only after the Lokayukta report is made public.
After Kumar, the voices within the party seeking his removal are likely to grow stronger with several top leaders of the party feeling not removing him would considerably weaken BJP's fight against corruption.
BJP's big plans of taking on the UPA government on the issue of corruption in the forthcoming session of Parliament would be dented if Yeddyurappa stays as chief minister.
"How will we fight against corruption if we compromise on Yeddyurappa. The water has now risen above the danger level. By not changing the chief minister in one state, BJP's image is being tainted across the country," Kumar said.
Yeddyurappa, the first BJP chief minister in a southern state, has survived all attacks against him in the last three years since he came to power by convincing the party top brass that he has the support of the majority of his party MLAs.
The 68-year-old chief minister is the most prominent Lingayat leader of the BJP in Karnataka and the party has been wary of antagonising the community by removing him.
However, the BJP has to finally take a call on Yeddyurappa's continuance to carry on its fight against corruption.