BANGALORE: Serving an ultimatum, BJP strongman of Karnataka B S Yeddyurappa today set February 27 as a deadline to the party's central leadership to reinstate him as chief minister, failing which he would decide on his course of action.
At a meeting of legislators convened by him at his Race Course residence, an apparently restless Yeddyurappa gave a piece of his mind and exhorted his supporters to exert pressure on the party leadership to make him chief minister again, sources close to him said.
Yeddyurappa spoke about his key contribution in building the party from the grass-roots level in the state, and questioned his removal, pointing to some chief ministers in other states continuing in office despite court cases against them.
Yeddyurappa was forced to resign more than six months ago after a Lokayukta report indicted him on illegal mining, and has in recent weeks been making vigorous behind-the-scenes efforts to regain the chief ministership.
Yeddyurappa turns 70 on February 27 and has extended invitation to all his supporting legislators to attend a lunch hosted by him on that day.
When his reaction was sought, Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda told reporters on the sidelines of a function here:"setting up of a deadline and leadership change are media creations".
"Don't devote importance to the lunch-gathering," he said on the Yeddyurappa-convened meeting which he could have attended till the end but for the need to participate in a function at Mangalore. Gowda visited Yeddyurappa's residence for a brief while.
Asserting that there is no leadership change, the chief minister said, "I will present the budget. There is no doubt in it".
"I am the consensus candidate and there is no move to replace me with other party legislator as the chief minister ... My position as chief minister is safe," Gowda told reporters at Mangalore.
Exuding confidence, Gowda said he would complete the remaining term till the 2014 Assembly polls. He also ruled out infighting in the party.
"Before I arrived in Mangalore, I attended the meeting called by Yeddyurappa in Bangalore. There is no confusion in the party," he said.
The meeting called by Yeddyurappa to showcase his strength was attended by more than 65 MLAs in the 122-member BJP legislature party besides MLCs and MPs.
Gadkari was received by Chief Minister Sadananada Gowda and Home Minister R Ashok among others and sped away in a vehicle to a private hotel. He, however, did not speak to the media.
Gadkari, who will be taking part in tomorrow's 'Chintan Manthan', is expected to return to New Delhi by 12.30 pm tomorrow, BJP sources said.
Gadkari is expected to hold talks with Yeddyurappa who has set February 27 as a deadline to the party's central leadership to reinstate him as chief minister, failing which he would decide on his course of action.
BJP sources said Yeddyurappa's supporters are expected to meet Gadkari tomorrow and press for the Lingayat strongman's reinstatement as the chief minister or give him state party president's post.
The sources said Yeddyurappa may not be able to convince the central leadership over his reinstatement as chief minister as he was facing many court cases which would dent the party's image.
However,he would employ backdoor tactics of gaining control over the party by recommending Jagadish Shettar as chief minister, which might be difficult for the central leadership to turn down as the demand comes from the BJP's biggest vote bank, Lingayats, the sources said.