Indicating a rebellion, senior Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Basanagouda Patil Yatnal has said that B S Yediyurappa will not remain chief minister for long and the high command has decided that his successor will be from the north Karnataka region.
The former Union minister even accused the chief minister of taking all the development work to his home district of Shivamogga, while taking back the funds allocated to MLAs of other constituencies.
However, several BJP leaders including its state unit chief Nalin Kumar Kateel have strongly refuted Yatnal's claims and ruled out any leadership change.
"...Rs 125 crore had come (for constituency), but our own chief minister took it back, after that a fight has started between me and him. He is taking things to Shivamogga... he will not be there (as CM) for long, his
(time) has come," Yatnal said.
Speaking at a function in his constituency in Vijayapura on Monday, he claimed that the BJP high command has had enough of Yediyurappa.
"Umesh Katti (another BJP MLA) too had a question whether he (Yediyurappa) was chief minister for Shivamogga or for entire Karnataka...if Rs 125 crore was not taken back from me, we had plans to make all roads cement road... it has been taken back, but I won't leave it, I'm fighting for it and I will bring it," he added.
There have been speculations in some quarters in recent times about the possible change in leadership, considering Yediyurappa's age.
However, the state BJP had recently issued a statement strongly refuting reports about replacing the 77-year old Lingayat strongman.
Stating that the BJP got the chief ministership because of support from people of north Karnataka, Yatnal said, "will anyone vote for them in southern districts like Mandya, Chamarajanagar or Kolar, it is us people of north
Karnataka who send good number of MLAs and about 10-15 may come from other parts."
"Ninety-five per cent MLAs (in BJP) will be us (from north Karnataka). So people at the top (BJP high command) have also understood. It has come in the mind of our Prime Minister that the successor (to Yediyurappa) should be from north Karnataka, he has said after Yediyurappa it will be from north Karnataka, it is almost final...," he said.
Yatnal also said, people from the Bengaluru side (southern region) will have to come and stand in front of our house in Vijayapura, like we go and stand in front of their houses now.
This is not the first time that Yatnal has expressed his displeasure against Yediyurappa.
Claiming that he was upset regarding development of his constituency, Yatnal, while denying ministerial aspirations and rebellion against the Chief Minister, in June had stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah were his leaders and Yediyurappa was "only the chief minister."
Responding to a question about change in leadership, he had then said that it was for the high command to decide and he would share his opinion on the matter at the right forum.
Rejecting Yatnal's claims, state BJP chief Naleen Kumar Kateel said, there was no question of chief minister or leadership change in our party.
"For the next three years, Yediyurappa will remain our chief minister," he said
Hitting back at Yatnal for "day dreaming", BJP MLA M P Renukacharya, who is also the political secretary to the chief minister said, all the legislators including those from North Karnataka are with Yediyurappa.
"The chief minister post is not vacant in Karnataka, the party is in power because of all regions of the state. We are in support of the development of north Karnataka. The leadership is decided by the high command and Yediyurappa was functioning effectively," he said.
None of the legislators from north Karnataka have spoken against Yediyurappa, he said, "all the MLAs are with BJP and Yediyurappa. Are they with you (Yatnal)? You are daydreaming. Don't dream."
Minister R Ashoka too said, for about next three years, the chief minister seat is not vacant, it is under Yediyurappa's leadership we fought elections and came to power and it is under his leadership this government will complete its term.
However, reacting to the developments, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said it is true that discussions have been happening in BJP to remove Yediyurappa from the chief minister post, and that he was not aware of when they will do it or who will replace him.
"We will not try to bring down the government, if it falls due to their (BJP) internal fighting, we are ready to fight the election," the Congress leader said.