Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley arrived in Bangalore late Tuesday to help state party legislators pick a successor to outgoing chief minister BS Yeddyurappa on Wednesday.
Talks to secure a consensus and avoid balloting continued well into the night as there were two aspirants - Lok Sabha member DV Sadananda Gowda and rural development minister Jagadish Shettar - for the post.
Gowda is being backed by Yeddyurappa and his supporters.
Shettar has the support of state BJP chief KS Eshwarappa and party general secretary HN Ananth Kumar, who is the Lok Sabha member from Bangalore South.
Rajnath Singh landed first and Jaitley joined him later in the efforts for a consensus that started on Friday, a day after the BJP parliament board told Yeddyurappa to quit after lokayukta N Santosh Hegde sought his prosecution for graft in illegal mining scam.
Both Gowda and Shettar were confident that the impasse would end on Wednesday.
The 120-strong legislature party is to meet at 11am in a star hotel in city centre to endorse the candidate to become BJP's second chief minister in the state in a little over three years.
The two aspirants separately met Rajnath Singh and Jaitley and told reporters that they have had detailed talks on the leadership issue.
Earlier in the day, Eshwarappa said if a consensus was not reached, ballot would decide the new chief minister.
Ahead of the legislature party meeting to pick the new leader, Yeddyurappa moved the high court to "nullify" the Lokayukta report. He also petitioned the Lokayukta to reconsider the recommendation to try him for graft.
The high court is likely to hear the petition on Wednesday.
The appeal to lokayukta will be taken up by Shivaraj Patil, who takes over from Hegde Wednesday. Hegde's five-year term ended on Tuesday.
Yeddurappa on Tuesday sought to remove the impression that he is insisting on Gowda so that he can wield real power to run the government.
"I do not want to be the super chief minister," he told reporters.
Later Tuesday he claimed "I will return as chief minister in six months". He made the claim at a farewell tea party he hosted for senior civil and police officials.
Rajnath Singh and Jaitley had tried for over two days from Friday afternoon to break the impasse.
But the two groups were not relenting forcing the party to put off to Aug 3 the legislature wing meeting that was to be held Sunday, soon after Yeddyurappa quit.
The legislators belonging to the two groups are holed up in two star-hotels in Bangalore, holding meetings amongst themselves and with their leaders.
Yeddyurappa's group is claiming the support of over 70 of the 120 party legislators in the 225-member assembly which has one nominated member.
"We have the support of over 70 assembly members to elect Sadananda Gowda and he will be chosen tomorrow (Wednesday)," excise minister and Yeddyurappa loyalist MP Renukacharya told reporters at Chancery Pavilion, a star-hotel.
The group backing Gowda has been staying in this hotel on the busy Residence Road in city centre since Sunday.
This claim is being contested by legislators backing Shettar. They are holed up in the Lalit Ashok, another star-hotel, about five km away.
Medical education minister SA Ramdas, identified with the Eshwarappa-Ananth Kumar group, told reporters that the new leader of the legislature party would be selected on the basis of the opinion of all the legislators and the "party high command".
"We are all bound by the decision of the high command," he told reporters.
BJP general secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka, Dharmendra Pradhan has been meeting Yeddyurappa, Eshwarappa, Ananth Kumar, Gowda, Shettar and legislators separately to arrive at a consensus.
He has been at this exercise since Thursday, hours after the BJP parliamentary board told Yeddyurappa to quit immediately.