Apparently unmoved by the BJP leadership’s desire to replace Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa in order to enable the party to maintain pressure on the scams surrounding the UPA government, the southern leader struck a defiant pose in Delhi on Monday.
“Nobody has asked me to resign. I will have discussions with Karnataka MPs and central leaders,” he told reporters here after his arrival from Bangalore.
Party chief Nitin Gadkari admitted, “I have not formally asked for his resignation.”
Asked about the delay in making Yeddyurappa quit, the BJP’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha SS Ahluwalia shot back: “How long did it take the Congress to sack Chavan or for the UPA to sack Raja?”
There are clear indications that Yeddyurappa wants to play the Lingayat caste card to survive the crisis, with Lingayat religious and community leaders backing him to the hilt.
However, many BJP leaders said the party leadership’s general mood was to replace him in a smooth manner. The party would first want to convince him to step down, and his views on a possible replacement would also be sought. Failing this, the BJP would find it difficult to save the precariously poised Karnataka government.
“If it comes to a full-fledged face-off between the central leadership and Yeddyurappa, the party would stand to lose in Karnataka,” said a BJP leader.
Another leader said, “There is a general view that he should step down. In a cadre-based party, one chief minister cannot be indispensable.”
“He is playing the caste card. With the wafer-thin majority that the government has, even a handful of MLAs rebelling can make the Karnataka government fall,” said a leader. “Electorally too, the loss of Lingayat support can damage the party’s prospects in the state,” he said.