BJP high command insists on MLAs withdrawing resignations

Stepping up the heat two days after nine Ministers loyal to the former Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, quit the Karnataka Cabinet, a meeting of legislators held at the residence of Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar on Sunday set a July 5 deadline for the high command to convene a meeting of the Legislature Party to elect a new leader of their choice.

The meeting, chaired by Mr. Shettar, was attended by over 50 legislators. The legislators made it clear to the high command that the strength of the camp has not reduced and that their demand is serious and should be appropriately taken note of. Nearly 10 MPs and an equal number of members of the Legislative Council were also present. Notable among the absentees were Mr. Yeddyurappa and Minister for Energy Shobha Karandlaje, who is stated to be away from Bangalore.

For the past six months, the Yeddyurappa faction has been demanding a meeting of the BJP Legislature Party, which had not been met by the high command.

With no solution in sight to end the political stalemate in Karnataka, all eyes are on the BJP high command’s decision — whether it prefers a change of leadership in the State or wishes to retain the incumbent Chief Minister, Sadananda Gowda.

Sources in the BJP told The Hindu that the withdrawal of resignation by nine Ministers was one of the conditions set by the high command for any further discussion. Dharmendra Pradhan, in charge of the party’s Karnataka affairs, who had been here for two days holding discussions with the leaders and legislators to bring about a rapprochement, concluded his visit after calling on State RSS leaders.

The nine Ministers rejected a plea to withdraw resignations saying they wouldn’t budge until their demand was met. One of the Ministers said: “This is a weapon which we have used to exert pressure on the high command to act. How can we withdraw our resignation?”

Mr. Pradhan is expected to submit his report to the high command at the earliest.