BSY commands majority support

Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa today met BJP central leaders Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, who continued to exert pressure on him to quit and facilitate smooth election of his successor.

As the political upheaval triggered by the Lokayukta report on illegal mining indicting the Chief Minister continued for the third day, the Yeddyurappa camp indicated that he was yet to take a final call on his resignation.

Yeddyurappa drove to the hotel, where Jaitley and Singh are staying and was closeted with them for some time, in the second meeting since the arrival of central leaders yesterday.

After the BJP Parliamentary Board directive on Thursday, Yeddyurappa had issued a statement saying he would step down on July 31, but within hours stirred up a virtual rebellion setting pre-conditions that even resulted in the cancellation of the legislature party to choose his successor yesterday.

"The collective opinion of the (majority) MLAs is that he should not resign," Chief Whip of the ruling party DN Jeevaraj told reporters outside the Yeddyurappa`s residence.

"Seventy-four MLAs have given authorisation to Yeddyurappa to decide whether he should resign or not," he said as the Chief Minister`s loyalists stood their ground publicly insisting that he should be allowed to continue.

Yeddyurappa`s move which has apparently taken the central leadership by surprise is 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," Jeevaraj said.

Another Yeddyurappa camp follower, Excise Minister M P Renukacharya said, "We stand by Yeddyurappa. We are appealing to the central leadership to continue him as Chief Minister. A majority of the MLAs got elected because of his leadership".

Renukacharya slammed the Lokayukta report on the illegal mining scam alleging it was a "conspiracy to dislodge Yeddyurappa," while the findings did not mention about the alleged illegal mining during the Congress regimes headed by S M Krishna and Dharam Singh.

As the BJP`s first ever government in the south continued to be gripped by the worst-ever crisis, no indications were available on when the legislature party meeting would be held.

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

"When I have not received any instruction, the question of calling the legislature party meeting does not arise at this stage," he said.

Eshwarappa expressed hope that Yeddyurappa would abide by the party high-command decision and resign.

While the Chief Minister`s camp claims a support of 74 MLAs, the rival one promoted by senior party leader HN Ananth Kumar and Eshwarappa say they have 57 MLAs. The ruling BJP has in all 121 MLAs.