In an effort to end the speculation on whether or not he would step down from his post, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa released a press statement here late Saturday afternoon that he would quit office on July 31.

The written statement released by his cabinet colleagues Basavaraj Bommai and Murugesh Nirani read: "As per the decision taken by our senior leaders in the parliamentary board, I am resigning from the post of Chief Minister on 31/7/20011." He further said that he had made a similar statement earlier, but was "clarifying" again since a section of the media was "misleading" the public.

Asked about the demands placed before the central leadership by Mr. Yeddyurappa and his loyalists, Mr. Bommai said that talks are progressing "very successfully" and there would be a smooth transition of power.

Two buses, with MLAs loyal to the Chief Minister, later left Mr. Yeddyurappa's residence for Hotel Ashok, where the central leaders are staying.

PTI adds:

Seeking to break the logjam on the leadership issue in Karnataka, senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday began the consultation process to choose a successor to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

According to top BJP sources, Mr. Yeddyurappa will tender his resignation on Sunday afternoon, keeping his word on Thursday that he would step down on July 31 following the party directive in the wake of his indictment in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining scam.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Yeddyurappa met Mr. Jaitley and Mr. Singh, who have been exerting pressure on him to quit paving the way for smooth election of a successor.

Throwing up signs of rebellion, Mr. Yeddyurappa had mobilised his loyalist MLAs and ministers who insisted on his continuance, putting the central leadership in a quandary.

Mr. Yeddyurappa wants the successor to be of his choice and is insisting on the state unit party president’s post for him, party sources said.

BJP national general secretary Ananth Kumar, a known bete noire of Mr. Yeddyurappa, is emerging as the top contender for the Chief Minister’s post, while the names of senior minister V.S. Acharya and party MP Sadananda Gowda is also doing the rounds.

Karnataka BJP president K.S. Eshwarappa expressed strong displeasure over the criticism of Lokayukta report by Yeddyurappa loyalists — ministers V. Somanna and M.P. Renukacharya, and Lok Sabha member D.B. Chandre Gowda.

Mr. Eshwarappa also stressed that nobody can question the decision of BJP Parliamentary Board, which asked Mr. Yeddyurappa to resign.

“The collective opinion of the (majority) MLAs is that he (Yeddyurappa) should not resign...74 MLAs have given authorisation to Yeddyurappa to decide whether he should resign or not,” BJP Chief Whip D.N. Jeevaraj told reporters earlier outside Mr. Yeddyurappa’s residence.

Mr.Yeddyurappa’s show of strength was seen as an attempt to play the hard ball for installing a man of his choice as Chief Minister apart from securing a key party post to maintain his hold.

“If he changes his decision (and decides to quit), we will abide by that decision. All in all, we are with the Chief Minister,” Mr. Jeevaraj said.

Mr. Jeevaraj said he has received no instruction from either the central leaders or state party chief K.S. Eshwarappa or Mr. Yeddyurappa himself on the issue of convening the meeting.

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