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Gowda safe for now, BJP tells Yeddy have patience

New Delhi(PTI): Karnataka Chief Minister D Sadananda Gowda today staved off any threat to his job for now with BJP’s central leadership counselling his successor B S Yeddyurappa to have patience after he insisted on his reinstatement.

Both Gowda and the former chief minister had a series of meetings with the BJP top brass in the Capital including party president Nitin Gadkari who is facing intense pressure from the former chief minister for giving the top job back to him.
BJP at the same time said all parties concerned must maintain strict party discipline even as Gowda spoke of a “small turbulence” which is a matter of concern.

Yeddyurappa said he was confident that the party leadership will take the “right decision”. Emerging from a long meeting with Gadkari and central leaders including General Secretaries Ravi Shankar Prasad, Dharmendra Pradhan and Ramlal, Yeddyurappa said, “I am happy with the outcome of the meeting…I am confident that party president and the party will take the right decision in the interest of the party and the people of Karnataka.”

Yeddyurappa claimed that Gadkari had conveyed to him that he will take an “appropriate decision” in the light of his request that he be reinstated as Chief Minister after the Karnataka High Court gave him a clean chit in a graft case. The Lingayat strongman met Gadkari after Gowda and state unit president K Eshwarappa had met the party president.

Significantly, while Gowda unilaterally announced to the media that he had been assured by the party high command that there will be no change of leadership “at present” in Karnataka government, Yeddyurappa was accompanied by Pradhan who is in-charge of the state when he made his statement.

Party sources said Yeddyurappa has been asked to have patience for some more time. The Central leadership apparently does not want to precipitate matters in the ruling party till the conclusion of the Budget session of the Karnataka Assembly on March 30.

“There is no leadership change… This issue is not there, there is no change of leadership. We will continue as it is,” Gowda told reporters after meeting senior BJP leaders here.

Asked if the party leadership had asked him to step down, Gowda said, “That question does not arise.” On reports that top BJP leaders have reconciled to reinstating Yeddyurappa, Gowda said there is “no such direction from the Centre or Central leaders whom we met today…”

Prasad said, “Gadkari will take an appropriate decision in consultation with the central leadership. He has also advised all parties concerned to maintain strict party discipline.” Though some of the top central leaders of BJP are against Yeddyurappa, the party appears to be reconciled to his return as Chief Minister in view of his mass base. Without his support BJP may put up a dismal performance in the Assembly elections due next year.

BJP’s humiliating defeat in the Udipi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha by-election by a huge margin of 45,724 votes also came up for discussion during Gadkari’s separate meetings with Gowda, Yeddyurappa, Eshwarappa and Karnataka minister Jagdish Shettar.

The Lok Sabha seat was represented by Gowda before he replaced Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister. Gowda’s camp is said to have put the blame for this loss on lack of support from Yeddyurappa. Gowda also indicated that the BJP defeat was due to party infighting.

With Yeddyurappa claiming to have the support of around 66 of the 120 BJP MLAs in the 224-member Assembly, the party would find it difficult to win atleast one of the two Rajya Sabha seats for which it has fielded its candidates. The BJP also needs his support for smooth passage of the state budget which was presented yesterday.

Prasad maintained that Gadkari discussed the current situation in Karnataka separately with the state unit leaders and gave all the four “a very patient hearing”.

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