Yeddyurappa quits but stalls successor’s election (Night Lead)

August 1st, 2011 - 1:09 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, July 31 (IANS) Scam-hit Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa quit Sunday but forced his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to put off, till Aug 3, the election of the new leader by insisting his nominee be chosen the successor.

“The new leader of the BJP legislature party will be elected on Aug 3 at 11 a.m. here,” BJP general secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Karnataka Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters late Sunday.

“Further discussions will be held over the next two days to reach consensus on the choice of the new chief minister,” he said as hectic efforts by senior leaders Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley failed to break the impasse.

The 68-year-old BJP’s first chief minister in south India and his supporters are demanding that Lok Sabha member from Udupi-Chikmagalur constituency D. V. Sadananda Gowda be elected as new leader of the state legislature party, a BJP source privy to the talks told IANS.

This is being strongly opposed by state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa and Bangalore South Lok Sabha member and general secretary H. N Ananth Kumar. They are pushing for Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar as the party’s second chief minister in just over three years, the source said.

With no consensus in sight even after over six hours of intense parleys after Yeddyurappa’s resignation, Rajnath Singh and Jaitley left for Delhi late Sunday.

The parleys started soon after a belligerent Yeddyurappa submitted his one-line resignation letter to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj at Raj Bhavan in the evening.

He went on foot (padayatra) from his official residence on Race Course Road to Raj Bhavan, about a km away, to tender his resignation. A procession of hundreds of supporters, including a dozen cabinet ministers and scores of legislators, walked along with him as a show of strength.

“Yedduyurappa is claiming he has the support of about 60 of the 121 party legislators to elect Gowda as new leader but Ananth Kumar and Eshwarappa are backing Shettar,” the source said.

“Consensus eluded the central observers even after several rounds of talks with opposing groups,” the source said.

Yeddyurappa is opposing Shettar as he does not want another from his Lingayat community to emerge as a rival within the party, the sources said. Gowda, however, belongs to the powerful Vokkaliga forward community

Yeddyurappa considers himself to the most prominent leader of the community that constitutes about 17 percent of the state’s over 60 million population.

Rajnath Singh and Jaitley were in Bangalore since Friday afternoon, to make Yeddyurappa quit at the earliest and to help elect his successor.

For the two leaders it has been virtually non-stop meetings at a star hotel - soon after their arrival till they left. Only once did they stir out of the hotel - to meet Yeddyurappa, shortly after landing from Delhi.

Yeddyurappa quit three days after the party directive following Lokayukta N.Santosh Hegde’s seeking his trial for graft in the massive illegal mining scam.

Now his successor will be chosen three days later and the battle to become BJP’s second chief minister in the state in just over three years will now be settled in Delhi.

There was no immediate indication from either the Yeddyurappa group or his rivals on when they plan to fly to Delhi to lobby with the party president Nitin Gadkari and other central leaders.

The delay in settling the party’s crisis in Karnataka might blunt BJP’s planned assault, in the parliament session beginning Monday, on the Congress-led UPA government over 2G spectrum allocation scandal and several other controversial issues like Lokpal bill.

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