Will abide by party brass decision: Yediyurappa
“I’m going”, is the between-the-lines message Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and workers in Karnataka have taken away from a series of statements issued by Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa since Wednesday night, partially resolving the will-he-won’t-he debate that’s only intensified since the 78-year-old leader’s return from New Delhi last week.
The lack of information over the decision taken during Yeddyurappa’s Delhi visit (if one was indeed taken) and the ultimatums issued by some Lingayat mutts against his removal -- the CM has the solid backing of the religious bodies -- led to uncertainty in the BJP camp. But following Yediyurappa’s statements, senior leaders in the party also have begun talking about a change of leadership with more clarity.
On Wednesday night, Yediyurappa tweeted asking his followers not to indulge in any protests. “I’m privileged to be a loyal worker of BJP. It is my utmost honour to serve the party with highest standards of ethics and behaviour. I urge everyone to act in accordance with party ethics and not indulge in protests or indiscipline that is disrespectful and embarrassing for the party.”
This was followed by a statement on Thursday, where he said that he would abide by any decision taken by the party leadership. Talking to reporters in Bengaluru, Yediyurappa said that everything will become clear after the event on July 26, commemorating the second-year anniversary of his government.
“Amit Shah and our national president (JP) Nadda have immense faith in me. As you know, no one above the age of 75 years is given any posts or positions by the party. But considering my work, the national leadership has given me the opportunity to be in power till 78. I will finish two years as chief minister on (July) 26. My aim is to strengthen the party and bring our government back to power once again,” Yediyurappa said.
He added that there will be a special programme to commemorate two years of the government. “Based on whatever directions are given by the party leadership on (July) 26, I will begin my work. There will be a special event on our government completing two years in power. After attending this event, whatever directions are given by the party leadership, I will abide by it,” he added.
Talking to the reporters on Thursday evening, Yediyurappa said he will remain the CM if the party wanted. “If they ask me to remain the CM for some time, I will do so. If they say no, I will work to strengthen the party in the state. Tomorrow (Friday) I’m going to inspect all the development works happening in Bengaluru. So, I will do my duty till the last minute. Let’s see what happens now,” he told reporters.
Asked about the multiple meetings with seers of the Lingayat community, which is the largest vote bank for the BJP in the state, he said they have given him their blessings. “Hundreds of mutt heads have met me and blessed me. I can never the support they have given me. With their blessing, I will carry out the task given to me by the national high command… I request all party workers not to create any problems and stand with me. Whatever protests have happened in my support are not right,” he added.
Reacting to his statement, Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashok, who is a close associate of the chief minister told HT that he will go by whatever the chief minister has said. “We will listen to what he (Yediyurappa) has said. We are loyal workers of the party, who will follow what is said by our national president. I have worked in the BJP for more than 40 years. Since we have grown up in the party, following the orders of the party is within us. The chief minister has clearly said that on (July) 26, whatever our national president orders will be followed. We will also accept it ,” he said.
Karnataka home minister Basavaraj Bommai said that he has faith in Yediyurappa to unite the party before the next elections and everyone is together in supporting him. “We can’t speculate (on central leadership’s decision). When he (the CM) returned from New Delhi, he had said regrouping the party and ensuring a win in the next election was his responsibility. About the decision (change of chief minister), we have a tradition of the central leadership taking a decision after consulting everyone… everyone in our party is together.”
Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah said that he already knew that Yediyurappa was going to be replaced. “Yediyurappa has been running a corrupt government. I have been saying that Yediyurappa will be replaced. I had information about this for a while now. No one believed me and now, I have been proved right. But I don’t believe that removing Yediyurappa will not bring a non-corrupt government to Karnataka, because BJP is a corrupt party,” said Siddaramaiah.
Following the reports of the possible change of leadership, BJP ministers who had moved to the party from the Congress and JD(S) held a meeting on Wednesday. On Thursday, K Gopalaiah, Karnataka excise minister and one of the lawmakers who had joined the BJP from JD(S), resulting in the fall of the Congress-JD(S) alliance, said that the chief minister has given a clear message.
“We have all heard his statement and he has made himself very clear.” When asked whether defectors will suffer if Yediyurappa is removed from the top post, he said: “We have given our resignations and come to the BJP. We are all BJP now. We are a family. There is no question of us being outsiders. There is no need for us to worry now.”