Yeddyurappa has been leading a rebellion against state government and demanding that his loyalist Jagadish Shettar should be the Chief Minister of Karnataka replacing Gowda. EPS File Photo
The crisis in the BJP government in Karnataka today reached a flash point with eight ministers loyal to state party strongman B S Yeddyurappa resigning and bracing for a show of strength in their campaign for ousting Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda.
In a critical turn to the festering crisis, the ministers met Gowda and handed over their resignation letters, seeking to put pressure on the central leadership which has so far refused to entertain their demand.
Emerging from Gowda's official residence, PWD Minister C M Udasi told reporters that eight ministers personally submitted their resignations and that of Shobha Karndalaje, who is away from the city, was handed over to the Chief Minister, who insisted that she should do so herself.
Besides Udasi, others who resigned are Jagadish Shettar, V Sommanna, Basavaraj Bommai, Murugesh Nirani, Revu Naik Belamagi, M P Renukacharya and Umesh Katti. Another minister Raju Gowda would quit tomorrow, Udasi said.
"There was a trust deficit between the ministers and the chief minister in the last 3-4 months. We had been pressuring the chief minister to convene the BJP legislature party meeting. That also did not happen," Udasi said.
After meeting Yeddyurappa minutes after tendering his resignation along with seven other ministers, Udasi said, "Our clear demand is there should be leadership change, and Jagadish Shettar should be made chief minister".
Udasi, flanked by the other ministers who tendered their resignation, asked the party's central leadership to convene the legislature party meeting soon. "There is no question of dropping our demand".
He said all MLAs, MLCs and Lok Sabha members supporting Shettar's candidature would meet at 11 am on Sunday.
Udasi said many issues raised by the MLAs were not addressed by Gowda.
"So we have decided to resign. We also brought the issues to the notice of central leadership."
"We were forced to precipitate the issue... There was no real working arrangement between the chief minister and ministers. There were a lot of complaints by MLAs also," Bommai said.
He quoted the chief minister as having told them that he would bring the resignation issue to the notice of the party central leadership.
Earlier today, ministers loyal to Yeddyurappa held strategy meetings at the residence of Shettar, who is being propped up by the dissidents as the successor to Gowda.
In-charge of the party's Karnataka Affairs, Dharmendra Pradhan said in New Delhi there was no question of replacing Gowda for now as he is "doing a good job".
BJP state unit chief K S Eshwarappa admitted that while one group of MLAs has been demanding Gowda's replacement, the other is against such a move.
Since coming to power four years ago, the first-ever BJP government in the south has been facing crisis after crisis, precipitated after Yeddyurappa's exit as chief minister last year after a Lokayukta report indicted him on illegal mining issue.
Gowda, handpicked by Yeddyurappa, faced trouble after the state party strongman went all out to regain the chief ministership only to be told by the party top brass that he should be first cleared in the corruption cases he is facing.
Having lost hopes, Yeddyurappa has been promoting Shettar, also from the majority Lingayat community to which he belongs, as their camp's chief ministerial choice.
One of the ministers told PTI that the party central leadership has directed Gowda not to forward their resignations to the governor for acceptance.
He said in the event of BJP high command not conceding their demand, some MLAS from their camp would resign their assembly membership.
The present strength of the Gowda ministry is 23, including the eight whose resignations are yet to be accepted, with 11 vacancies against the statutory limit of 34.