Yeddyurappa will resign, says Karnataka BJP chief (Evening Lead)

July 28th, 2011 - 7:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, July 28 (IANS) Beleaguered Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa will resign soon as directed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) central leadership, the party’s state unit president K.S. Eshwarappa said Thursday.

“As a loyal and disciplined member of the party, Yeddyurappa will obey the decision of the high command and resign soon. Though the chief minister explained his position on the mining issue to the party president (Nitin Gadkari) late Wednesday, Yeddyurappa has no alternative than to step down in conformity with the leadership’s decision,” Eshwarappa told reporters here.

The first chief minister of the BJP in south India rushed to New Delhi late Wednesday to brief Gadkari and other party leaders on the Karnataka Lokayukta’s (ombudsman) final investigation report on the multi-crore mining scam in the state over the years.

Discussions on the probe report and recommendations of the ombudsman (Justice N. Santosh Hegde) began around midnight and went on till early hours of Thursday at Gadkari’s residence. In line with the party’s policy decision earlier, Gadkari advised Yeddyurappa to step down immediately and pave way for the election of a new leader in his place.

The BJP, which came to power in Karnataka on its own for the first time in May 2008, has 22 more months to rule as the five-year term of the current state legislative assembly lasts till May 2013.

Even as the criminal involvement of Yeddyurappa in the mining scam became clear after a part of the probe report was leaked to the media July 21 and as Hegde told IANS last week, the party leadership decided to wait for the report to be made public and find out if the chief minister’s prosecution was recommended under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

“As a policy decision, the party leadership earlier conveyed to us that it would decide on Yeddyurappa’s continuation after the probe report became public and if his complicity was established. The party’s parliamentary board endorsed that decision and told the chief minister that he could regain the post if he is cleared of the charges levelled against him by the ombudsman,” Eshwarappa asserted.

Soon after a dejected Yeddyurappa returned to Bangalore earlier in the day, he has been holding hectic consultations with a dozen cabinet ministers and scores of lawmakers, party cadres and supporters at his official residence on the next course of action.

“The party high command advised me to convene a meeting of the party’s legislators Friday to elect a new leader in place of Yeddyurappa in the presence of the party’s senior leaders Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh,” Eshwarappa said.

In a related development, the powerful Reddy brothers — Revenue Minister G. Karunakara and Tourism Minister G. Janardhana — and their close ally Health Minister B. Sriramulu also agreed to abide by the party’s leadership decision to remove Yeddyurappa.

“We, including Reddy brothers, abide by the decision of the party high command for the change of leadership in the state. We have conveyed our decision to Eshwarappa,” Sriramulu told reporters earlier.

The party’s parliamentary board, which met in New Delhi earlier in the day, directed Yeddyurappa to resign in the wake of his indictment by the ombudsman in the mining scam.

The Reddy brothers and Sriramulu, who hail from the rich mining region of Bellary in north Karnataka, about 300 km from here, are among others against whom the ombudsman recommended prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, for their criminal involvement in the mining scam.

Though the Reddy brothers claimed all along that they were not indulging in any mining activity as they had neither mines nor mining licenses in the state, Hegde Wednesday said there was enough evidence, including documents, to prove they were indulging in illegal mining and export of iron ore from the state.

Meanwhile, the names of Karnataka Rural Development Minister Jagdish Shettar, state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa and Lok Sabha member Ananth Kumar are doing the rounds as a possible replacement for Yeddyurappa.

Shettar is a Lingayat leader like Yeddyurappa. Eshwarappa, who belongs to a backward caste, is another option for the party, while former state president Sadananda Gowda’s name has also been taken as a possible choice. All three are not so well-known nationally.

The BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Bangalore South constituency, Ananth Kumar, who has been a competitor of Yeddyurappa, is another contender, according to party sources.

Former home minister and Yeddyurappa loyalist V.S. Acharya, Law Minister Suresh Acharya and Shobha Karandlaje, who is known for her proximity to the chief minister, are the other names being floated.

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