The former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa's dream of staging a comeback as Chief Minister of Karnataka now hinges on the Supreme Court's verdict on whether to accept the Central Empowered Committee's recommendation to order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into his alleged role in illegal mining.
For the present, the Bharatiya Janata Party central leadership has decided to play safe, and will wait for the apex court's decision before taking a call on Mr. Yeddyurappa's demand for reinstatement as Chief Minister.
However, Friday's development is being viewed in party circles as a “serious setback” for Mr. Yeddyurappa, who till recently resorted to pressure tactics to stage a comeback.
“We are not in a hurry. We will patiently wait for the Supreme Court's decision,” highly placed sources in the party said.
However, party sources noted that there was no question of considering him for the post of Chief Minister if the apex court accepts the CEC's recommendation or passes strictures against him. In fact, Mr. Yeddyurappa would not even be considered for the party State president's post. “Party State president's post is more sacrosanct than the Chief Ministerial post for the party organisation,” they said.
The party felt that there could be some kind of a temporary turbulence within its fold if the Supreme Court orders a CBI probe. “We know that he will not accept the defeat meekly and may try to rebel. But we are prepared to handle any eventuality,” sources said adding, “Mr. Yeddyurappa's political clout will also dip if a CBI probe is ordered against him as that would reduce his options as well as his political acceptability.”
Mr. Yeddyurappa had quit as Chief Minister on July 31, 2011, following his indictment in the Karnataka Lokayukta's report on illegal mining. The verdict of a Karnataka High Court's Division Bench on March 17 that had given him a clean chit, had revived his hopes. But now the CEC's recommendations appear to have put hurdles in his path.
Meanwhile, Mr. Yeddyurappa struck a defiant note by maintaining that the CEC's recommendation was not final and expressed confidence that he would be acquitted.
He went into a huddle with his close aides, including Ministers, at his Racecourse Road residence soon after the CEC recommended a CBI probe against him. Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje was one of those who rushed to his residence.
Mr. Yeddyurappa held consultations with his supporters on the various legal options available to him. The Yeddyurappa camp is also reportedly trying to keep its flock together.