Amid heightened buzz over his continuation as Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yediyurappa on Thursday indicated that his exit was imminent and said he will remain in the post till the BJP's central leadership asks him to step down.
The 78-year-old Lingayat strongman said he had offered to resign two months ago with an intention to make way for others and asserted that he won't name a possible successor even if asked to.
Central BJP leaders did not talk about his replacement during his recent Delhi visit, he said.
"The party high command is likely to give directions on July 25 regarding my future as the Chief Minister and I will continue to perform my duties till the last minute and thereafter will work for strengthening the BJP with an aim to bring it back to power." "I still haven't got any message (regarding his future as CM).. I'm waiting if there will be any message on July 25. I will abide by the Centre's decision, I have said this in the past and I'm saying it once again," Yediyurappa said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said, "Whether in power or not, I will travel across the state and work towards strengthening the organisation and bringing the party back to power. As long as I'm asked to be the Chief Minister, I will remain in the post, when I'm told they don't want me in the post I will work towards strengthening the organisation."
Yeddyurappa's government will be completing two years in office on July 26. Noting that he will continue with the work and will inspect the developmental works in Bengaluru on Friday like construction of roads and rajakaluves (stormwater drains), the Chief Minister said, "I will perform my duties till the last minute, let's see what happens in the end."
Asserting that there is no confusion and the party is united, he said abiding by the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national President J P Nadda is "our duty". Reiterating his earlier statement that there are alternative leaders in the state to replace him, Yediyurappa said, "I will not make any suggestion (on successor)..who should be made (the next CM) is left to the central leadership. I'm not naming anyone, there is no need for it also. Even if I'm asked, I will not suggest any names."
Asked whether anyone from the Lingayat community should be his successor, the leader who hails from the community said, "I will not put any such pressure. Why are you coming to such decisions so soon? After July 25, based on what the central leadership says, let's see."
To a question whether the central leaders spoke to him regarding the replacement, during the recent visit, he said, "absolutely not."
The CM on Thursday chaired a cabinet meeting, which is being seen as his "last", in case he steps down after July 26.
Earlier in the day, Yediyurappa said he will abide by the BJP central leadership's decision, regarding his continuation as the CM.
Based on the instructions that the central leaders will give him on July 25, he said he will begin "his work" from July 26. "We have a special programme on July 26 regarding two years of our government, after attending that programme, I will abide by the instructions from the national president," he said.
"PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and Nadda have a special love and faith towards me. You are aware that no position has been given to those who have crossed 75 years of age," he said, but appreciating his work they have given me an opportunity despite his age crossing 78. Yeddyurappa's sudden trip to Delhi last week during which he met national leadership, had raised questions in some quarters if the party is now working out a succession plan.
On his return from the national capital, Yediyurappa had, however, rubbished talks in some quarters that he is on his way out, and asserted that the central leadership has asked him to continue in the post.
Asking his supporters and well-wishers not to give any statements in his favour or indulge in any kind of protest, Yediyurappa said, "It is not appropriate, I appeal for cooperation, without indulging in such things." Hundreds of pontiffs belonging to various communities have blessed me and have extended their support, he said, "I cannot forget this throughout my life. No one has got such support in the past.. with their blessing, I will function according to the decision of the high command."
Support has continued to pour in for Yediyurappa from Mutts, pontiffs, political leaders across the party line (especially Congress), amid speculations that his exit was on the cards.
Leaders and pontiffs, especially from the Veerashaiva- Lingayat community, and also All India Veerashaiva Mahasabha have declared support to Yediyurappa and have urged for his continuation as the Chief Minister, while also warning "bad consequences" for the BJP if he is replaced.
While, BJP National General Secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh, ducked the questions on leadership change in the state, several Ministers of Yediyurappa cabinet either maintained that they were unaware of the developments or said that they will abide by the decision of the high command.
Revenue Minister R Ashoka and Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who have been dismissing reports of possible leadership change in the past few days, today said they will abide by the decision of the high command and they were not aware of what discussions are happening at the leadership level. Food and Civil Supplies Minister Umesh Katti expressing his aspiration to become CM said, he has all the "qualifications" as he has won the assembly election nine times.
"I also desire to become CM, age is also on my side as I'm 60 years now... may become someday. If I get an opportunity I will perform by giving good administration." Rural Development Minister K S Eshwarappa, welcoming Yediyurappa's statement to abide by high command's decision and the party, appealed to pontiffs not to cause embarrassment to the CM by issuing statements against BJP while demanding for his continuation.
Meanwhile, there seems to be a sense of nervousness among 12 legislators who became ministers after defecting from the Congress and JD(S), as they had come to BJP trusting Yediyurappa's leadership, and without him, they fear uncertainty, sources said, adding that they met the Chief Minister today.
On the other hand, accusing Yediyurappa of providing a "bad government" to Karnataka, Senior Congress leader and leader of opposition in the assembly, Siddaramaiah said he doesn't expect that the state will get a competent government and an honest CM by removing him, as the BJP itself is a "corrupt party".