Karnataka BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel on Wednesday once again ruled out the possibility of a leadership change in the State, even as senior Minister KS Eshwarappa acknowledged that a section within the party is of the view that Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa should be replaced. The statements have come as the BJP national general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh's three-day visit to the state began on Wednesday amid speculations in some quarters about leadership change.
"There is no question of leadership change. Chief Minister Yediyurppa will remain in the post for the next two years," Kateel told reporters. However, Rural Development Minister K S Eshwarappa conceded that some within the party are proposing that the Chief Minister should be replaced.
"What you are saying is right, some have proposed that the Chief Minister should be changed, while a few others are proposing that he (Yediyurappa) should continue as the Chief Minister; a few have even gone to Delhi and come back," Eshwarappa said in response to a question. Eshwarappa, however, expressed hope that all issues would be resolved, as Singh would meet Ministers, legislators and MPs and elicit their opinion and share the same with the central leadership.
Eshwarappa, also a former State BJP president, on March 31 met the Governor Vajubhai Vala and submitted to him a five-page letter on "serious lapses and authoritarian ways of running the administration" by the Chief Minister. As part of his three-day visit, Singh would be holding a meeting with all the Ministers this evening, and during the next two days he would have one-on-one meetings with legislators and Ministers who want to meet him, and finally on Friday he would take part in the State BJP core committee meeting, party sources said.
Speculations have been rife for some time now that a section of the ruling BJP is trying to push for unseating Yediyurappa. However, Singh had recently ruled out replacing the Chief Minister and asserted that Yediyurappa would continue in the top post.
His visit comes amid growing disgruntlement among a section of BJP legislators like Hubli-Dharwad MLA Arvind Bellad and Tourism Minister C P Yogeshwar who have made visits to Delhi to meet national leaders and expressed the feeling of some legislators against Yediyurappa's style of functioning and requested them to rein in the Chief Minister. Leaders like MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal and MLC A H Vishwanath have been embarrassing the government with their statements against the functioning of the government and the Chief Minister, alleging interference from Yediyurappa's younger son and state BJP vice president B Y Vijayendra in administration.
Also, the governments Chief Whip V Sunil Kumar has publicly asked BJP leadership to provide a "platform, where legislators can air their grievances. This even as some BJP legislators are said to be pushing for convening a legislature party meeting, pointing at certain decisions taken by the government, its functioning, handling of the COVID crisis and alleged instances of corruption, among others.
Amid all these activities and speculations, Yediyurappa had earlier said he would continue in the top post as long as the BJP high command has confidence in him, and he had no confusion about it. He subsequently asserted that there was no confusion in the State BJP on the issue of leadership and that he would work for the development of the State during the remaining two years of the term.
Earlier too, there have been speculations in some quarters that the BJP high command is mulling leadership change in Karnataka considering the 78-year-old Yediyurappa's advancing age. Though the BJP had officially rejected outright such speculation in the past, it refuses to die down, with some within the party like senior MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal giving credence to it with his statements, setting repeated deadlines for Yediyurappa's exit.