A faction within the ruling BJP in Karnataka,led by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa,that is pushing for a replacement of Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda,has set a July 5 deadline for the party high command to decide on its demands. The deadline was announced by a junior minister in the government,Narasimha Naik alias Raju Gowda,following a meeting of legislators and MPs aligned to the Yeddyurappa faction.
The faction comprising largely of members of the dominant Lingayat community are demanding the installation of Jagadish Shettar,a Lingayat leader,as the chief minister to reflect the Lingayat support base of the BJP in Karnataka.
As many as 50 BJP MLAs of the Yeddyurappa faction were a part of discussions at the residence of Shettar on Sunday morning. Shettar who was opposed by the Yeddyurappa group as a replacement chief minister when Yeddyurappa was forced to quit under corruption charges in July 2011 is seeing the current crisis as the last opportunity to be the chief minister.
The Yeddyurappa group which propped up Sadananda Gowda,a member of the other dominant community in Karnataka,the Vokkaligas,as the chief minister last August,is now opposing him on the grounds that he has gradually grown antagonistic to the group aligned with Yeddyurappa.
The crisis that has been slow boiling for several months now precipitated last week when nine ministers in the 24-man Cabinet of Gowda resigned demanding the convening of a meeting of BJP legislators to pick a replacement for him.
The BJP has 121 MLAs in the 224-member Assembly. The Yeddyurappa faction claims to have the support of as many as 70 and has produced a list of 51 showing signed support. The faction is expected to raise the stakes by resigning as legislators if their demands are not met.
The BJP state in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan has been holding parleys with the various groups in the BJP to try to stem the threat from the Lingayat community legislators in the party. He called on Yeddyurappa on Saturday evening and was reportedly told: Let us enjoy a good cup of coffee,both you and I know that solving the crisis is not in your hands.
A faction supporting Sadananda Gowda whose numbers are not clear has threatened to bring the government down if the current chief minister is replaced. It takes 113 to form a government and only 13 to bring it down, minister Balachandra Jharkiholi,who is backing Gowda,said last week.
Pradhan is expected to report the substance of his findings to the BJP high command and some sort of solution is likely to be evolved after the July 3 wedding reception for BJP national president Nitin Gadkaris younger son in New Delhi,sources said.
Gowda has been summoned to Delhi on Monday. Yeddyurappa who is being investigated by the CBI is not scheduled to travel to Delhi this week. However,members of his group are expected to attend the wedding reception.