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Former CM Yeddyurappa sets deadline, keeps BJP on the edge

By Vicky Nanjappa
January 02, 2012 16:52 IST
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B S Yeddyurappa's followers have threatened to stage a coup in the state party if the central leadership does not take a favourable decision. Vicky Nanjappa reports.

Former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa chose to downplay the war between him and Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party President K S Eshwarappa.

The two leaders have been having a war of words since the past couple of days, with Yeddyurappa blaming Eshwarappa for his stint in jail.

However, Yeddyurappa, who held a closed-door meeting with his loyalists, came out and informed the press that Eshwarappa was still his friend and he had no problems with him. This statement by the former Karnataka chief minister is exactly the opposite of what he has been saying in the past few days. Yeddyurappa had said that it was Eshwarappa who was responsible for his downfall. "I went to jail because of him. Since he took over as party president he has been plotting my downfall," Yeddyurappa had said.

Eshwarappa, however, chose to keep mum on the developments. He had warned the central leadership about the on-going developments and said that there could be a major coup in the Karnataka BJP in case they did not act soon.

It is a well-known fact that Yeddyurappa has been seeking the post of state party president. Earlier he was eyeing the post of chief minister, but when he realised that was not going to happen, he sought to pressurise the party to make him state president.

The biggest question that many in Karnataka are asking now is whether Yeddyurappa will break the BJP. Political observers say that it would be the last resort that Yeddyurappa would adopt, and he would play out this drama till the very end.

Yeddyurappa, however, said on Monday that he would go to New Delhi on January 15 if needed and have discussions with the party's central leadership, which has closed the doors on him. January 14 is the deadline set by the Yeddyurappa camp, failing which his followers have threatened to stage a coup in the party in Karnataka.

Yeddyurappa will have to tread very carefully in the days to come and any hasty decision could lead to his own downfall. He has a variety of options before him; joining the Nationalist Congress Party, floating a new party or reviving the Janata Dal-United in the state. His loyalists told that all these options were open to the former chief minister, but they hope that the central leadership won't ignore Yeddyurappa and make a mess out of the party.

Yeddyurappa has only shown signs of rebellion, though each time he speaks he does not indicate that he would split the party. 

On Monday, from outside his residence, Yeddyurappa said that he intends to work for the party and ensure that BJP has more MLAs and MPs in the next election. This is just an indication that he would like to lead the party to victory, which would automatically make him the next chief minister of the state.

The central leadership appears to be buying time on the issue. It is not possible for them to take a hasty decision. Dumping Yeddyurappa unceremoniously would mean a fall in the Lingayat vote bank, which is the ticket to BJP's victory in the state. Handing over the post of party president would mean having another disgruntled group in the BJP, led by Eshwarappa. The other option the BJP could offer Yeddyurappa is a post in the national leadership. Yeddyurappa would settle for either of the options for the time being.

The idea of the party's central leadership to drag the issue for another two years and groom another leader may not succeed since Yeddyurappa is in no mood to wait. One of his loyalists said that these tricks will not work this time around and the leadership has to act soon. "It is meaningless to waste the resources of such a senior leader who brought the party to power single handedly," he said.

Party's spokesperson Dhananjaya Kumar denied any rift in the party. "There are misunderstandings that take place in every party, but it is nothing serious. Whatever small issues are there will be sorted out," Kumar said.

Eshwarappa on the other hand maintains that no individual can be above the party. "I just expect the national leadership to take a decision soon on the issue and end the problem," he said.

Currently there is calm in the Karnataka BJP which has had a stormy run ever since it took over the administration of the state. However, it would depend on what the central leadership would do in the next two weeks to douse the fire.

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