Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa said on Sunday he will continue to hold the top post in the state “as long as the Delhi high command has confidence in me” as the buzz of a change in the southern state’s leadership has been doing the rounds. “The day they will say they don’t want me, I will resign and work day and night for the development of the state,” Yediyurappa said in response to a question on attempts to replace him, according to news agency PTI.
“I’m in no confusion. They (high command) have given me an opportunity, I’m trying beyond my strength to utilise the opportunity for good. Rest is left for the high command,” he said while speaking to reporters.
The clamour for a leadership change in Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has grown louder with increasing instances of conflict within the BJP and the Yediyurappa-led government. The defeat in the Maski bypolls and wafer thin margin of victory in Belagavi Lok Sabha by-elections has also gone against the 78-year-old chief minister.
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Yediyurappa’s relationship with BJP’s central leadership has soured over the last few months. The chief minister has been forced to secure his chair, assuage dissent within his own government and party as well as lead the calamity-prone state out of the raging Covid-19 pandemic at the same time. Many have also said his handling of the pandemic in the state hasn’t been very good.
At least two BJP leaders, including one minister, went to Delhi in May, purportedly to meet the top brass in connection with a possible change in leadership in the state. In response to their Delhi visit, Yediyurappa said his only priority was to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. “I only have Covid in front of me. To control it and people’s welfare is my only priority. If someone went to someplace, they have been sent back with an answer,” Yediyurappa said.
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On Sunday, the Karnataka chief minister also responded to a question on “alternate leadership”. “I will not criticise anyone. I won’t agree that there is no alternate person. There will always be alternate persons in the state and the country, so I won’t agree that there are no alternate persons in Karnataka, but until the high command has confidence in me I will continue as the chief minister,” he said.
However, many state BJP leaders have rallied behind Yediyurappa, and said there is no plan to replace the chief minster.
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Yediyurappa’s deputy CN Ashwathnarayan said on Sunday that here is no question of him stepping down. “No such discussions are happening. He only made a statement that he is willing to abide by whatever decision the party takes as he is a disciplined soldier of the party,” he said according to news agency ANI.
BJP’s national general secretary CT Ravi also said that Yediyurappa will continue as the chief minister. “We do not have any such ideas to bring down Yediyurappa from the chief minster’s post and we have unanimously selected him as the Chief Minister. Rumours must be set aside,” Ravi said on Saturday.