Supporters of the former Chief Ministers pitch their tent in resort

A major political crisis has gripped the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the State with the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa claiming the support of at least 70 legislators, including half the Ministers in the Sadananda Gowda Cabinet, and shifting them to a resort on the outskirts of Bangalore until a meeting of the BJP Legislature Party is held wherein he could apparently be elected as the leader and consequently appointed Chief Minister.

Mr. Yeddyurappa is firm on his reinstatement as Chief Minister, while the BJP high command is reportedly divided over conceding it.

The demand for reinstatement surfaced after the Karnataka High Court quashed the charges made out against Mr. Yeddyurappa in the Lokayukta report and the reference made by the Governor to the Lokayukta to file a first information report and investigate the charges.

The demand for a legislature party meeting has been placed by Mr. Yeddyurappa to exhibit that he commands a majority, and with the Constitution clearly stipulating that the leader of the legislature party which commands a majority in the Legislative Assembly be appointed the Chief Minister by the Governor, Mr. Yeddyurappa is seeking to use this route rather than continue with his plea before the party high command for his reinstatement. Shifting the legislators to a resort is aimed at keeping his strength intact.

The confusion in the State BJP reached a feverish pitch on Sunday with a meeting purportedly called by Mr. Yeddyurappa at his residence to finalise the strategy ahead of the legislature session commencing on Tuesday.

Even as preparations were on for the meeting, Minister for Municipal Administration Balachandra Jarkiholi (at Gokak in Belgaum district) who claims the support of around 10 legislators threatened to precipitate matters, including resignation, if Mr Yeddyurappa was reinstated as Chief Minister.

Interestingly, the former Ministers from Bellary district and legislators (Reddy brothers and their associates) have stayed clear of the latest round of political developments.

Ministers and legislators owing allegiance to the former Chief Minister made a beeline for his residence but they were stated to be unable to arrive at a clear-cut decision, toying between a delegation of legislators calling on the central leaders or shifting to a resort on the outskirts of Bangalore to boycotting the presentation of the State Budget by Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who holds the Finance portfolio.

Initially, Mr. Yeddyurappa himself was to lead the delegation, but by the evening the plan was shelved and it was decided to opt for a legislature party meeting wherein given their numbers a new leader could be elected.

Mr. Sadananda Gowda told The Hindu that he would present the budget on March 21.

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