Cauvery, the stately British-era manor and the official residence of Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa is now looking like a mutt or an ashram. There has been a steady stream of saffron-clad visitors after a worried chief minister returned from New Delhi last weekend.
According to highly reliable sources, the 78-year-old BJP stalwarts days are numbered in office and the party bosses in New Delhi have already indicated that he may have to quit to make way for new leadership in the state. Though he is officially rubbishing such reports, his activities speak of an entirely different situation.
In an unprecedented move, two powerful Lingayat MLAs from the main opposition Congress — MB Patil and Shamanur Shivashankarappa — have openly come out in support of Yediyurappa claiming the BJP high command is humiliating a tall leader of their community. Their stand has angered certain Congress leaders in the State. However, they maintain that it is their personal stand and not that of their party.
An embarrassed state BJP has launched a campaign against these two claiming Yediyurappa is safe.
Several dozen Lingayat seers and other religious leaders have been openly supporting Yediyurappa, warning the BJP national leadership against any misadventures.
On Wednesday, over 50 Seers from across Karnataka met Yediyurappa and expressed their faith in him.
Siddalinga Swamy of Siddaganga Mutt, one of the most powerful mutts in the state, led a delegation of seers and asked the BJP leadership not to remove Yediyurappa from the CM chair.
Speaking to media he said, “It is not a Lingayat fight. Yediyurappa is a Karnataka leader. He has done well. Why should he go? We want him to continue till the next Assembly elections due in April 2023”.
Some of the seers who had accompanied him reportedly shouted slogans in favour of Yediyurappa, embarrassing the chief minister.
The open backing of the seers has complicated the matter further for the BJP, which hopes for an early and amicable solution to the current impasse.
Two BJP legislators openly opposed to Yediyurappa have criticised the interference by seers in state politics. BR Patil Yatnal, a Lingayat MLA has asked the seers not to back a corrupt CM for personal gains. Coming down heavily on the Yediyurappa camp, he has termed these events stage-managed.
BJP MLC and Congress — JDS turncoat H Vishwanath has also attacked the seers for backing Yediyurappa in public. He said it was unbecoming of the Seers to play politics.
Yediyurappa belongs to the Lingayat community which is about 16% of Karnataka’s total population. They are considered the most powerful both economically and politically. They are also a pan Karnataka community.
Yediyurappa who grabbed the power two years ago by toppling the HD Kumaraswamy-led JDS-Congress coalition government is completing two years in office on July 26. His rival factions are confident that he will be forced to quit after that.
Will the Saffron-robed men be able to prevail upon the BJP high command? One has to wait and see.