BS Yediyurappa said today that he may not remain Karnataka Chief Minister after July 26, when his government completes two years, and asserted that he would obey his party BJP.
“There is an event on July 26 on the completion of two years of our government here. After this, I will follow whatever (BJP president) JP Nadda will decide,” Mr Yediyurappa said, in the clearest acknowledgement that he had offered to resign amid rebellion in the Karnataka BJP against him.
“You all know that two months ago I had said I would resign to make way for someone else. Whether I am in power or not, it is my duty to bring back the BJP to power. I urge party workers and seers to cooperate,” he added.
Mr Yediyurappa said “till now” he had not been asked to resign.
“When the directions come, I’ll quit and work for the party,” he said. Insisting that the party leadership had said nothing to him, he remarked: “Let’s see what happens after 26th”.
“I will be Chief Minister for as long as you say. When you say no – I will work for the state. I am going to check roads and storm drains. I will do my duty till the last minute. Let us see what finally happens,” he went on.
Mr Yediyurappa, 78, the BJP’s first and only Chief Minister in the south, had so far officially denied that there was any talk of his exit.
Reports of his possible replacement peaked when Mr Yediyurappa took a chartered flight to Delhi last Friday for meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others in the BJP leadership.
Reports had said that in his meeting with PM Modi, he had offered to quit citing his health.
On record, however, Mr Yediyurappa’s response to whether he was on his way out was this: “Not at all, not at all, not at all.”
After returning to the state, he went on a spree of meetings, especially one with Lingayat seers, powerful priests of the Lingayat community that Mr Yediyurappa belongs to. It was seen as a way of driving home his importance to the BJP.
The Lingayats are a politically powerful and sizeable votebase for the BJP, and have strongly supported Mr Yediyurappa over the years.
Two Lingayat priests on Wednesday warned against changing the Chief Minister and a similar appeal came, unusually, even from an opposition Congress leader from the Lingayat community.
Last evening, the Chief Minister had put out tweets calling himself a “loyal worker of BJP” and urging his supporters not to “indulge in protests and indiscipline that is disrespectful and embarrassing for the party”.
A section of BJP MLAs and ministers have demanded that Mr Yediyurappa be removed as Chief Minister. State Tourism Minister CP Yogeeshwara had recently said instead of the Chief Minister, his son had been ruling and controlling the ministries of Karnataka.
BJP leader AH Vishwanath said that 80 percent of party legislators were of the view that the leadership in the state should be changed