The on-going leadership tussle in the state BJP intensified on Wednesday with Municipal Administration Minister Balachandra Jarkiholi threatening to play a “suicide bomber” to uproot the first BJP government in the state if Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda was changed to appease B S Yeddyurappa.
Jarkiholi’s threat comes in the wake of the party high command’s reported decision to replace Gowda with Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Jagadish Shettar, a choice of the Yeddyurappa camp, in the first week of July. Karnataka BJP in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan will arrive in Bangalore on June 28 to elicit views of MLAs.
Strongly favouring Gowda’s continuation, Jarkiholi on Wednesday warned the party that he had enough support to topple the government. “We need 113 legislators to form the government. But just 13 MLAs are enough to topple it and we have that number. The moment the party decides to change Gowda, we will submit resignations to the Speaker,” Jarkiholi told reporters while demanding national leaders explain to the people why Gowda was being replaced.
Apart from the Jarkiholi group, ministers and MLAs toeing the party line are also backing Gowda to prevent a Yeddyurappa nominee from being appointed CM.
Sensing that the situation was turning in his favour, Gowda has also stepped up efforts to remain in the chair and held a meeting with ministers and MLAs of his group. Ministers S A Ramdass, Govind Karjol, Varthur Prakash, A Narayanaswamy, MLAs C T Ravi and Veeranna Charanthimath attended the meeting.
According to sources, the Gowda camp has decided to demand that the party high command choose a new legislature party leader through an election, if a change of leadership was inevitable. “Let there be an election. Let us not forget that Gowda has become CM through election,” said a minister in Gowda’s camp.
On the other hand, the Yeddyurappa camp was busy mustering support of MLAs in favour of Shettar so that they continue to have an upper hand even if there was an election.
MLAs were asked to come to Bangalore on Thursday, sources close to Yeddyurappa said.