Claiming support of 70 MLAs, former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa (BSY) lashed out at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Ananth Kumar, state chief minister Sadanand Gowda and state BJP president KS Eshwarappa on Monday, but added that he and his supporters would remain with the party for the time being.
While there were fears that he could split the BJP, at a press conference in Bangalore BSY said he had changed his mind following an appeal by senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.
Accusing Ananth Kumar of being desperate for chief ministership, BSY said, “He made three attempts to dislodge me from the post of chief minister.” Kumar is BJP’s seniormost general secretary and considered close to LK Advani.
In Delhi, a group of BSY supporters, including close confidant Shobha Karandlaje, met Jaitley and party leader Dharmendra Pradhan to figure a way out of the impasse. Rumours were rife that Karandlaje also met Congress leader Ahmed Patel — a day after BSY praised Sonia Gandhi for backing her leaders who committed mistakes — but Patel denied any such meeting.
A senior BJP leader said BSY, with his Lingayat votebank, was crucial for the party — which fears getting routed in Karnataka in 2014, in view of the infighting — and the best way out was to calm things down to control damage. However, the fact that he attacked Kumar means that the storm hasn’t blown over yet. For now, there seems to be little chance of a change of guard in the state or in the party unit at the moment.
Matters came to a head after a recent Supreme Court order of a CBI probe against BSY and a recent letter by Gowda to party chief Nitin Gadkari against BSY loyalists. BSY has said he will tour the state over the next 15 days to meet his supporters and then take a call.
Sources said he might find drifting away a better option if he decides that the party’s prospects in the state are bleak. But he would have to factor in the CBI investigation against him before taking any decision.