Bangalore: The Karnataka BJP President, KS Eshwarappa on Saturday ruled out any possibility of a change in state leadership, after eight ministers quit the government demanding that Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda be replaced by Jagadish Shettar, a BS Yeddyurappa loyalist.
BS Yeddyurappa, the former Karnataka CM, has been at loggerheads with the party ever since he was removed from his post in July 2011 and replaced by Gowda.
Eshwarappa on Saturday held a meeting with Shettar over the issue. Shettar was, in fact, one of the eight ministers who resigned from the government on Friday.
Said Eshwarappa, "There is no question of a leadership change. We will not accept the resignations of our ministers."
Meanwhile, BJP General Secretary Dharmendra Pradhan met the rebel ministers.
Sources said it was likely that in a bid to calm Yeddyurappa down, the BJP might ask him to wait till the Presidential poll was over and then try and make Shettar the deputy CM as a compromise formula.
Chief Minsiter Gowda however said that he refused to accept the resignations of the eight ministers. Gowda said this post his meeting with the Governor. "I came to meet the Governor to have discussion on the Budget session. The Financial Bill has to be passed. I came to get a date finalised. We also discussed the present political scenario, where I refused resignations from the ministers," he said.
Supporters of Gowda have said that they will not let him resign. Anand Asnotikar, the state Fisheries Minister, said, "We are supporting Chief Minister Sadananda Gowda. If any decision is taken to remove him, Jaakirholi and I will resign."
He asked, "Why should the CM resign? Is he corrupt? Has he been involved in any scam? If he has to step down, the central leadership will have to give a convincing reason. All these claims that the BJP can win only under Yeddyurappa are false. Under Sadananda Gowda, the BJP won five out of six MLC seats. He is a leader who supports every community and not just any one community."
Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa camp is also in no mood to back down. CM Udassi said, "We have made our decision clear that Jagadish Shettar should be made the CM and that's why we have resigned. When there was allegations against the former excise minister Renukacharaya, Sadananda Gowda immediately ordered a probe. But when there were allegations against Law Minister Suresh Kumar, why didn't he order a probe? It's clear that the CM doesn't trust us and we don't trust him."
Yeddyurappa has for some time been demanding that Gowda be replaced by Shettar. The former CM was removed from his post following allegations of his involvement in the illegal mining scam.
Congress senses opportunity
The Congress on Saturday sought to make the most of the ongoing crisis within the BJP, with factionalism in several of its state units including Karnataka and Gujarat coming out in the open.
Congress leader Jagadambica Pal said, "The developments in Karnataka and Gujarat BJP shows that the BJP is a party without a leader. The internal differences within the BJP are now in the open... be it in Gujarat, Rajasthan or Karnataka."
Pal added, "A party that cannot manage its own units... how can they be able to manage the country?"