'It was not the individual's decision. It was the collective decision (that BSY should resign).'
With the resignation of 78-year old four-time chief minister of Karnataka, Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa, who hails from the electorally dominant Lingayat community, all eyes are focused on how his Bharatiya Janata Party deals with the possible backlash from the community and who will be assigned the responsibility of giving a stable BJP government for the next three years.
Nirmal Kumar Surana is vice-president of the BJP's Karnataka unit and in-charge of Puducherry. In an exclusive interview, he tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com that the BJP has several capable leaders who can fill in Yediyurappa's shoes and the BJP's Karnataka MLAs will decide who will helm the state.
Apart from the age factor, what explains Mr Yediyurappa's resignation as chief minister?
It was discussed at the upper level and it was decided; that's all.
So, was it a call taken by the BJP high command that he should resign?
You can't call it that; it was mutual. The decision (to resign) was taken by BSY himself. He wanted to get away from this.
If Mr Yediyurappa's decision to resign was mutual, then why is there a strong reaction to his resignation from some sections of the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which makes up 16% of Karnataka's voters, against Narendra Modi?
But nothing (there is no reaction) from BSY, no.
But the Lingayat community in the state seems to be upset with this 'mutual decision'.
Not all, just a few. They have seen Yediyurappa from the last 50 years and there is attachment with him as an individual and BJP leader. More than the community, it was the individual they wanted (from the community), that's all.
So, was it Mr Yediyurappa's voluntary decision to resign?
It was not the individual's decision. It was the collective decision (that BSY should resign).
Was it a collective decision of the elected BJP MLAs of Karnataka?
No, not like that. You cannot say like that.
Whose collective decision was it then?
All; everybody from within the government to ministers to MLAs to the party (the BJP).
Do you think that his popularity among the MLAs had gone down and so he resigned?
Nothing like that. His popularity has not diminished. His popularity is the same.
Was it that some BJP MLAs from Karnataka and from the party were not happy with his style of functioning and the alleged interference of his son, BJP Karnataka vice president B Y Vijayendra?
Nothing like that. He decided that he wanted to resign so he gave a call for his resignation.
How does the BJP plan to deal with post-Yediyurappa Karnataka? Who could be next in line to become chief minister?
There are so many capable and efficient people that are there (who could become Karnataka's chief minister).
Who could be these capable front-runners?
There are so many in the party. Not just one or two.
Does the BJP have any plan to won back the Lingayats who are upset with the way Mr Yediyurappa resigned?
They (Lingayats) are not unhappy because of his resignation; it's just that they wanted him to continue.
Could it be that the next chief minister will also come from the Lingayat community?
It is nothing like that; all our legislative party members (from Karnataka) will sit together and decide who will be the next chief minister.
The Congress has targeted Mr Modi for making Mr Yediyurappa as his target.
Let me tell you, the Congress has lost all credibility among the people of Karnataka. They are fighting among themselves. I don't have to reply to what they are saying.
There are only two people (in the state Congress); one is the former CM (Siddaramaiah) and one is desperate to become the next CM (D K Shivakumar). They are fighting among themselves.
Can't the same be said that because of infighting within the Karnataka BJP, Mr Yediyurappa had to resign?
No, there is no infighting at all. There will always be discussions and differences of opinion (among party members). That is quite natural. But there are no differences in the party.
Would the next chief minister be somebody who has Mr Yediyurappa's confidence?
Whoever has the confidence of the legislative party will be the next CM. It will be decided in the BJP legislative party in the state.
How soon do you think the BJP will be able to name a successor to Mr Yediyurappa?
It will have to happen soon. It will be done in the next two-three days.
Mr Yediyurappa's supporters from Shimoga district has called for a bandh. Will his resignation have a fallout on the BJP's fortunes in Karnataka?
According to me, that news has no basis; it is false.
Will there be a backlash from the Lingayat community?
Never. Never. Never (There will be no backlash from the Lingayat community).
Yediyurappa is our most respected leader and the senior-most; that is one part. But we also have so many other MLAs (from the Lingayat community).
Mr Yediyurappa has been chief minister for four terms, but his total tenure has been a little more than five years.
Does this augur well for the next BJP chief minister in the state? Wouldn't the next CM also be under a constant threat of removal?
That is not correct. This question is very hypothetical. How can you guess like this? Whoever has the majority support of the members of the legislative party will be the next CM.
Why should a question of threat emerge? We don't have the Congress or JD-S to pose any threat to the BJP in Karnataka. We will complete the full five years and win the election after that too.
Can one then say that Mr Yediyurappa didn't have the support of the majority MLAs of the Karnataka BJP and so he resigned?
That again is a wrong conclusion. There's nothing like that.
You said the next CM will be one who will have the support of the majority among the members of the BJP legislature party?
I didn't say support of the majority; I said support of the whole legislative party. It will happen unanimously; there is no majority or minority here.
You are mixing up things.
The state legislative party will sit together and decide the next CM.
Is it that the majority of the BJP's Karnataka legislative party did not want B S Yediyurappa as chief minister?
You are mixing up issues. You are asking about the (how the) next CM (will be elected) and that's all I am replying to.