Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa had denied any plan to step down at the conclusion of his meetings with the Central high command during his New Delhi visit last weekend. (PTI)
Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa had denied any plan to step down at the conclusion of his meetings with the Central high command during his New Delhi visit last weekend. (PTI)

Karnataka BJP legislative party meeting cancelled amid buzz over Yediyurappa

Some BJP leaders say the cancellation of the meeting is Yediyurappa’s message that a leadership change is not imminent and people are rallying behind the chief minister.
PUBLISHED ON JUL 21, 2021 07:47 PM IST

Amid speculations of a leadership change in the Karnataka government, chief minister BS Yediyurappa has cancelled the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislative party meeting he called on July 26, the second anniversary of his government, in a possible signal that he may still be in control, some BJP leaders indicated.

It was speculated that a new leader could be elected in the BJP legislative party meeting that the CM called after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and other senior BJP leaders a couple of days ago in Delhi. However, its cancellation has added to the confusion on Yediyurappa’s political future.

Two leaders in the know of the developments said instead of the legislative party meeting, Yediyurappa has called for a dinner meeting of all MLAs on Sunday. The leaders emphasised that it shall not be seen as a meeting of the legislative party.

Some BJP leaders say the cancellation is Yediyurappa’s message that a leadership change is not imminent. “You have seen the developments in the last few days. People are rallying behind the chief minister,” said a legislator from Bengaluru on the condition of anonymity.

Even though Yediyurappa denied any plan to step down at the conclusion of his meeting with Central high command during New Delhi visit last weekend, many in the party continued to suggest that he will soon step down in accordance with a transition formula agreed upon. These speculations were further strengthened with an audio clip, allegedly of party state president Nalin Kumar Kateel, hinting at a change of guard.

Meanwhile, more pontiffs from the religious mutts across the state visited Yediyurappa on Wednesday and extended their support to the chief minister. Among prominent seers who visited Yediyurappa was the pontiff of Siddaganga Mutt, Tumkur, which has a large following among the Lingayat community in the state. Siddaganga seer said it was the view of all pontiffs to allow Yediyurappa to continue as chief minister. “Our wish is that he remains CM for a full term,” he said.

Yediyurappa is hosting seers for the second consecutive day after meeting several of them on Tuesday. Veera Someshwara Shivacharya Swami, one of the pontiffs who met Yediyurappa on Tuesday said any move to replace Yediyurappa will have big consequences for the BJP. “Friction is common in politics, let anyone say anything, we have confidence that BS Yediyurappa will continue as the chief minister and complete the term. If there are any shortcomings in this, it will have big consequences for the party,” he said.

BJP MP from Bengaluru North and former Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda on Wednesday said there was no chance of leadership change in Karnataka as the BJP central leadership was pleased with the developmental activities and the handling of Covid-19 in the state.

“I don’t think there is any truth in the ongoing discussion about the leadership change because these decisions are taken by our Central leaders keeping in view the political situation in the states,” the former chief minister told reporters in Bengaluru.

He added that Yediyurappa had explained the prevailing situation in the state and government’s Covid management and developmental credentials to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home minister Amit Shah, and the party realised that a change was not required.

“It is my strong gut feeling that there is absolutely no chance of leadership change. These are all speculations,” he said.

On pontiffs of various Lingayat matts rallying behind Yediyurappa, Gowda said, “Whenever we do some good work, people appreciate it. As a result, people stand in his favour.”

The MLAs who quit the Congress-JD(S) coalition to join the BJP are also concerned about the speculations. The Yediyurappa government’s expansion last week honoured a long standing promise to reward the rebel MLAs who helped the BJP return to power in the state in 2019.

“Initially when there was a delay in giving us cabinet positions, it was Yediyurappa who stood by us. We don’t know what is going to happen because there is no clear message from the Central command on change in leadership, we will wait and watch,” said one of the MLAs who had joined BJP after quitting the previous JDS-Congress government in the state.

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