BENGALURU: Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa's visit to Delhi has sparked rumours of his replacement as he is about to complete two years in office this month, even as the 79-year-old BJP veteran dismissed the speculation on Saturday as "not at all true" and said he has been asked to strengthen the party in the southern state.
Describing his two-day visit to Delhi as successful, Yediyurappa said the central leaders of the BJP have asked him to continue as the chief minister and that there was no discussion on a leadership change.
He also said the BJP leadership has asked him to strengthen the party in Karnataka so that it wins the upcoming elections.
While the Assembly polls in Karnataka are slated in 2023, the Lok Sabha election will be held in 2024.
Yediyurappa met Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh and BJP chief J P Nadda on Saturday, a day after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The meetings come at a time when political circles are abuzz with speculation of Yediyurappa being replaced as the chief minister after he completes two years in office on July 26.
Yediyurappa said the discussions at these meetings revolved around strengthening the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka and ensuring that it returns to power in the state.
"We discussed about the development of the party in the state. He asked me to give special emphasis on bringing the BJP back to power in Karnataka. The same was told by the prime minister also. A detailed discussion took place," Yediyurappa said after his meeting with Nadda.
He said his meeting with Singh was on similar lines and added that Shah told him: "We will win cent per cent in Uttar Pradesh and in Karnataka, there is a bright future and we are with you."
"He (Shah) has asked us to work hard in Karnataka and ensure more seats in the Lok Sabha polls. He has asked me to take the responsibility of strengthening the party in Karnataka. (Shah said) our blessings are with you," the chief minister said after meeting the Union home minister.
Earlier, talking to reporters at the Karnataka Bhavan here, Yediyurappa dismissed the speculation about his resignation, saying there is no truth in these rumours.
"Not at all. Not at all," he said when asked if he had resigned.
On his meeting with Nadda, Yediyurappa said, "I have discussed in detail about the development of the party in the state and the country."
"He has given so many instructions to me. He has a good opinion about me. I will work for the party and come back to power again in Karnataka," he said.
On the issue of his resignation, the chief minister said there is no question of hiding it.
"That situation has not yet come," he added.
"So far, no one has been asked to resign. If there is any news, there is no value to it," Yediyurappa said.
"It is the duty of a chief minister to come to Delhi to discuss state issues and get clearances. I will come again in the first week of August," he said.
After his meetings with Nadda and Singh, Yediyurappa enjoyed a plate of idli and vada along with coffee at the Sagar Ratna restaurant in Hotel Ashoka, near the Karnataka Bhavan.
He went to the restaurant with his son B Y Vijayendra, grandson Shashidhar Mardi, MLC Lehar Singh and personal secretary Girish Hosur.
After the meal, the chief minister had left for the airport to return to Bengaluru as his appointment with Shah was not confirmed.
But on his way, he got a call from Shah's office and went to meet the Union home minister.
After meeting Shah, Yediyurappa left for the airport.
After landing in Bengaluru, he told reporters that the central leaders of the BJP have asked him to continue as the chief minister and there was no discussion on a leadership change.
"The central leaders have asked me to continue as the chief minister and strengthen the party. It is our duty to follow their instructions from time to time. There is no question of a leadership change," Yediyurappa said.
Denying that any discussion took place on alternative leadership, he asserted that there is no dearth of substitute leaders in the saffron party.
However, the chief minister maintained that the party has given him a responsibility and he will work to strengthen the BJP in the southern state by taking everyone along.
Yediyurappa met the prime minister on Friday and discussed the pending projects in the state, including the Mekedatu project across the Cauvery river.
The speculation of Yediyurappa being replaced as the chief minister is doing the rounds following repeated open remarks by some disgruntled leaders within the Karnataka BJP targeting him and his family with accusations of corruption and interference in the administration, which have embarrassed the party and the government, despite warnings of disciplinary action by the leadership.
Another section of the party is demanding the replacement of Yediyurappa citing his age and the need of projecting a new chief ministerial face ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls, sources had said.
On a possible cabinet rejig, Yediyurappa, before meeting Modi, told reporters, "I will tell you if there is any such discussion with (party) seniors over the restructuring or expansion of the cabinet."
An official statement issued after the Friday meeting between Modi and Yediyurappa had said the chief minister discussed various state issues with the prime minister.