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Quit now or face expulsion, BJP tells Yeddyurappa

Saturday July 30, 2011 10:18:00 AM, IANS

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Bangalore: On a day of high drama and swift developments, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) high command Friday told scam-hit Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to resign forthwith or face expulsion from the party.

"BJP observers Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh served an ultimatum to Yeddyurappa to resign unconditionally or face expulsion from the party," a party source told IANS late Friday.

Jaitley and Singh, deputed by the BJP high command as observers to elect a new legislature party leader, met a defiant Yeddyurappa and tried to persuade him to abide by the party's parliamentary board decision Thursday that he should resign following his indictment by the state Lokayukta (ombudsman) in the multi-crore mining scam in the state.

Though the 68-year-old Yeddyurappa agreed to resign July 31, his insistence to have a say in the choice of the new leader, in the formation of the new ministry and his own appointment as the party's state unit president did not find favour with the high command.

"The observers conveyed a stern message from party president Nitin Gadkari to Yeddyurappa through his close aides - Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje and Irrigation Minister Basavaraj Bommai - that he should first submit his resignation to the governor (H.R. Bhardwaj) and then he can place his demands at the party's legislature meeting," the source said.

Jaitley and Singh also told Yeddyurappa and his vocal supporters that their brief was only to preside over the legislature party meeting as observers and facilitate election of a new leader after the chief minister resigns.

"If Yeddyurappa claims that he has majority support of legislators, MPs and others, then he can easily prevail upon them to elect the new leader of his choice, have whatever say in the formation of the new cabinet and convince them to let him head the party's state unit. These are all internal affairs of the party at the state level and have nothing to do with the decision of the high command for his resignation as chief minister," the source quoted the observers telling Shohba and Bommai.

Party's state president K.S Eshwarappa also reiterated that Yeddyurappa was bound to resign as decided by the high command in line with the party's policy of directing those indicted by a court of law or Lokayukta to step down.

"Though Yeddyurappa contributed immensely to the growth of the BJP in the state, led the party to power and became the party's first chief minister in south India, he is no exception to the policy decision of the parliamentary board, which is supreme. He has no option but abide by the high command's directive," Eshwarappa told reporters late Friday.

With a sulking Yeddyurappa refusing to budge from his three pre-conditions, the party was forced to cancel the legislature party meeting that was rescheduled twice during the day.

Yeddyurappa claimed the support of 75 legislators, 15 MPs and 21 legislative council members in having a say in the formation of the party's next government.

In a statement late Thursday, the chief minister said he would tender his resignation July 31 after the end of Ashada masa (month), which began July 2 and ends July 30, as it is considered inauspicious time to take important decisions as per the Hindu calendar.

"I am a disciplined worker of the BJP. I have decided to tender my resignation to the post of chief minister as per the direction of the party. The month of Ashada (according to Hindu calendar) will be over on 30th July 2011 on the New Moon day or Amavasya. I will be tendering my resignation as Chief Minister on the forenoon of 31st July 2011," Yeddyurappa said in the statement.

The lingering crisis came in handy for the Congress to attack the BJP. In New Delhi, its spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi mocked at the party, saying Yeddyurappa appeared to be dictating terms to quit.

The effort to find a successor to Yeddyurappa began late Thursday, a few hours after the BJP parliamentary board met in New Delhi and "unanimously" decided to ask the chief minister to resign.

The marching orders came a day after state Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde recommended Yeddyurappa's prosecution for graft in the huge illegal mining scam.

BJP general secretary and in-charge of Karnataka party affairs Dharmendra Pradhan has been holding meetings with groups of legislators and ministers from Thursday evening. Late Thursday, former BJP president and Rajya Sabha member from the state M.Venkaiah Naidu joined him in the exercise.








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