Amid speculation that Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa will be forced to quit in the wake of Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hedge indicting him and others in his report on illegal mining, the news from the Bharatiya Janata Pary high command is that any decision in this regard will be taken only on Thursday.
Yeddyurappa, who landed just a while ago in New Delhi, will have to wait for another day for the party high command to decide on his fate.
Putting up a brave front notwithstanding the damning indictment, Yeddyurappa on Wednesday night ruled out his resignation.
"Why should I resign?" he told mediapersons at the Delhi airport soon after his arrival from Bangalore to meet the BJP top leadership.
"All our all India leaders are with us. All our MLAs are with us. And the question of my resignation does not arise," he said before his meeting with BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
The political affairs committee of the BJP met in New Delhi late on Wednesday night and decided to take up the issue in the core committee meeting that will be held on Thursday morning.
The decision was taken since it was too late in the day and Yeddyurappa reached Delhi very late.
Yeddyurappa has also decided to convene a state cabinet committee meeting to be held on Thursday at 3.30 pm.
Meanwhile, the process to drag the issue has already commenced. The Karnataka state government has decided to raise several objections regarding the Lokayukta report.
While raising objections to certain portions of the report, the government will also seek clarification on some points of the report.
'Making the decision public a mere formality'
However, lobbying for the post of the next chief minister of Karnataka continues to take place way into the night.
Sources in the BJP who have been interacting with the leaders in New Delhi said that the decision to ease out B S Yeddyurappa has already been made and it is a mere formality to make the decision public.
The source, however, added that Yeddyurappa is holding on tight and would battle it till the last before he gives in.
Yeddyurappa's game plan in New Delhi would be first to hold on to his post. If he fails he would try and impose a candidate of his choice as a compromise formula, sources added.
For the BJP in New Delhi the more important issue is to seek the ouster of both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram in connection with the 2G scam.
For this they will need to sacrifice Yeddyurappa and will need to take a very bold decision. Party sources said that at the moment Yeddyurappa is adamant but he is slowly losing clout within his party.
The only BJP CM in South India has told his party colleagues that he will not accept the leadership of Jagadish Shettar and Ananth Kumar at any cost.
He would like his continuance as the only Lingayat face of the party, and Shettar, who also hails from the same community, could erode into his base.
Although Ananth Kumar is in with a chance, many in the high command, and Yeddyurappa in particular, will scuttle his chances. The BJP top brass had been considering Kumar for the post since they feel that he is an excellent 'crisis-manager' and the party needs a man like him.
However, Yeddyurappa, if forced to quit, will ensure that his candidate succeeds him. Although a major part of the BJP barring the likes of R Ashok would agree to the candidature of state minister Shobha Karandlage, there has been a specific advise not to rope her in.
There is talk that opposition Janata Dal-Secular is waiting to expose her with some scam and it could be a major embarrassment if this were to happen once she takes over.
The other candidate who may just make it if Yeddyurappa has his way is Sadananda Gowda. However, to install Gowda, they would need the nod of the Reddy brothers and also R Ashok who have been opposing his candidature.
The BJP source said that the man with the best chance at the moment is Jagadish Shettar who has the backing of the entire Ananth Kumar-group and also some within the Yeddyurappa group.
A lot would depend on the party high command regarding this decision. Moreover the Lingayat vote bank in North Karnataka would remain intact if Shettar takes over as the CM.
BJP state unit president K S Eshwarappa is also playing his cards. However the BJP says that he is all alone and does not enjoy the support of anyone within the party to don the post of CM.
The other issue that is being discussed is the fate of the Reddy brothers.
While all of us are focusing on the fate of Yeddyurappa, the Lokayukta report also holds them (Reddy brothers) guilty of illegal mining.
Sources, however, said that for the Reddy brothers the survival of the BJP government is most vital and they are even ready to put in their papers. But the rider remains, 'Yeddyurappa should step down first.'
With inputs from PTI