‘I will not go down without a fight; I will convey your outrage to the party high command’

Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda’s home office here, ‘Krishna’, became the stage for wild scenes late on Monday evening when at least 1,000 people from the Vokkaliga community trooped into the premises. They were demanding that Mr. Gowda withdraw his resignation.

The agitators, who started with a boisterous demonstration at the Town Hall at noon, entered Mr. Gowda’s residence around 7 p.m. and were led by the BJP’s Vokkaliga MLAs C.N. Ashwath Narayan and Shankarlinge Gowda as well as Karnataka Rakshane Vedike president Narayana Gowda and Nanjavadhoota Swami. Although they remained ambivalent about their future within the ruling party, Mr. Ashwath Narayan and Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda changed tack once inside the Chief Minister’s residence and, egged on by the crowd, announced that they would resign from the Legislative Assembly.

The leaders of the agitators repeatedly urged all Vokkaliga legislators to rally behind the Chief Minister and resign if their demands were not met. The crowd and the leaders repeatedly berated Home Minister R. Ashok who has sought the post of Deputy Chief Minister.

Visibly emboldened by the support, Mr. Gowda said that he would fight it out with the party high command. For the first time since the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and his supporters launched a campaign for his ouster, Mr. Gowda assured the gathering that he would not go down without a fight.

Addressing the restive crowd using a megaphone, he said, “I am sure the national leaders [of the BJP] are watching these scenes on live television. You have been betrayed and deserve justice. I will fight for you and strongly convey your outrage to the high command.”

He told the crowd, “Your leaders tell me that this is just a symbolic and peaceful demonstration. I shudder to imagine what will happen when you get angry.” Identifying with the Vokkaliga tag, Mr. Gowda said, “I have worked as an ordinary Vokkaliga boy for the uplift of the State as a whole.”

Referring to Mr. Yeddyurappa, he said, “The party too is unhappy to let me go, but there are some who are putting undue pressure.”

There were tense moments earlier as the crowd, which was restrained 500 metres from ‘Krishna’, threatened to cut loose. Police Commissioner B.G. Jyothi Prakash Mirji and several top officers led a large force in their attempts to pacify the crowd. But at 6.45 p.m. word came from the Chief Minister’s office to let the crowd enter the official residence.

The Vokkaliga heartland of Mandya and Ramanagaram districts too erupted in anger over the imminent removal of Mr. Gowda from the post of Chief Minister.

Groups of activists under the banner of the Vokkaligara Sangha staged demonstrations and burnt effigies on the Bangalore-Mysore highway at Mandya, Channapatna and Ramanagaram, besides gathering in protest at Malavalli and Pandavapura also.

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