Hectic political activities continued for the second consecutive day in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka on Thursday, as party's national general secretary in-charge of the State Arun Singh started meeting leaders and legislators individually, in the backdrop of speculations over replacing Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa.
Singh, who landed in the city on Wednesday evening, had already held a meeting with ministers along with Yediyurappa and state BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel.
The individual meeting with legislators, MPs and leaders that was scheduled at the city's Kumarakrupa Guest House, was at the last minute shifted to state BJP office Jagannath Bhavan at Malleshwaram, in view of maintaining "secrecy" of the interaction and to avoid large number of workers from gathering considering COVID situation, sources said.
Kateel too is present at the meeting, they said.
Even as Singh is meeting legislators and leaders individually, activities were on in the camp that wantsYediyurappa to continue, to put forward their case before the national general secretary and to send a message they were firmly behind the chief minister.
In what appeared to be a show of solidarity, several ministers including Basavaraj S Bommai, J C Madhuswamy and S Angara and a host of legislators made a beeline to chief minister's residence, while 10 to 15 legislators met at Yediyurappa's political secretary M P Renukacharya's residence for breakfast, sources said.
Hubli-Dharwad MLA Arvind Bellad, MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and others who are seen as a faction opposed to Yediyurappa, have reportedly held discussions regarding their strategy on Wednesday evening itself.
Tourism Minister C P Yogeshwar was also said to be in touch with them.
Another faction of MLAs who claims to be "neutral" and swears to abide by the party decision on the leadership issue are likely to use the opportunity of individual meetings to express their concerns on the functioning of the government and the party; also implications of the recent development in the future.
Legislators who met at Renukacharya's residence questioned the need for leadership change, while asserting that Yediyurappa will complete the term and will lead the party in the next assembly polls due in two years.
They demanded action against those who are making public statements on the issue and creating confusion.
Renukacharya had invited a large number of legislators who are in support of Yediyurappa to his residence for a breakfast and thereafter had planned to go together and present their case before Singh, but he had to drop it, with the leadership making it clear that the general secretary would meet only individually and not in groups.
The Honnali MLA said, he had organised breakfast for legislators from rural areas at his official residence as hotels are not open due to COVID restrictions, but had to drop it following Wednesday night call from the chief minister asking him not to go ahead with it as it would send a wrong message.
“Only ten to fifteen of us had met for breakfast. All legislators are with Yediyurappa, only one or two who are day-dreaming about becoming CM and have stitched 'Suit-Boot' are creating confusion. I want to question whether they have won on their own ability. No, it is because of Yediyurappa they have won," Renukacharya said.
Calling Yediyurappa a tall and undisputed leader of the party and questioning the "morality" of those questioning his leadership, he demanded action against those causing embarrassment and are indulging in "dissidence activities", and warned if it is not put to an end it will hamper the party in the future during upcoming local body polls and next assembly polls.
Noting that the 2018 mandate to BJP was under Yediyurappa, another BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa questioned the need for leadership change when the chief minister is functioning effectively, said, "he (Yediyurappa) will continue as CM for remaining two years and lead the party in next polls. Party should take action against those involved in dissidence activities."
Another MLA M P Kumaraswamy too, questioning the need for leadership change at the time when only "one year is left for development", as the remaining one year will go into poll preparation, said "Yediyurappa brought BJP to power in south India. He is a good leader and all of us are with him."
Meanwhile, MLC A H Vishwanath, who has been embarrassing the government with his statements against the functioning of the government and the chief minister, after meeting Singh, said, like in other parties "family politics and demon politics" is seen in BJP too and advised that Yediyurappa become "margdarshak" and make way for others.
"I don't belong to any faction; I'm a party worker... I was with Janata Dal-Secular earlier as its state president and MLA and had quit revolting against its leadership opposing several things there, but same things I'm seeing here. I'm seeing family politics and demon politics here too," he said.
Pointing at Yediyurappa's statement that he will remain CM as long as the party leadership wants him to and alternative leadership exists in the party, he said, "Yediyuruppa should become margdarshak and in his place a leader from 'Panchamasali Veerashiva' community should be appointed as chief minister giving him good team of ministers so as to bridge between the party and the government."
Singh who will be meeting legislators, MPs and leaders individually, on Thursday and Friday, will finally take part in the state BJP core committee meeting scheduled on Friday.
Speculations have been rife for some time now that a section of the ruling BJP is trying to push for unseating Yediyurappa, despite Singh ruling out replacing the chief minister and asserting that the 78-year old Lingayat strongman will continue in the top post.
Giving credence to rumblings within BJP, senior minister K S Eshwarappa on Wednesday had acknowledged that a section within the party is of the view that Yediyurappa should be replaced.
On his arrival on Wednesday, Singh had asked legislators and leaders not to make any statements in the media that may harm the party, even as he asserted that the state BJP was united and praised Yediyurappa's leadership.
He had later gone into a huddle with the chief minister and his cabinet colleagues regarding the functioning of the government, taking its programmes to the masses, hearing grievances of public and legislators and maintaining proper coordination between the party and the government.