The Kaveri, a luxurious manor of the British era and the official residence of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, now looks like a monastery or an ashram. There was a steady stream of saffron-clad visitors since the anxious chief minister returned from New Delhi late last week.
According to highly credible sources, the 78-year-old BJP veteran’s days in office are numbered and party bosses in New Delhi have already indicated that he may have to step down to make way for a new leadership in the state. Although he is officially denying such reports, his actions speak of a completely different situation.
In an unprecedented move, two powerful Lingayat MLAs from the main opposition Congress – MB Patil and Shamanoor Sivashankarappa – have come out in open in support of Yeddyurappa and claimed that the BJP high command is humiliating a prominent leader of his community. His stand has angered some Congress leaders in the state. However, he maintains that this is his personal stand and not that of his party.
The embarrassed state BJP has launched a campaign against the two, claiming Yeddyurappa is safe.
Several dozen Lingayat saints and other religious leaders have been openly supporting Yeddyurappa, warning the BJP national leadership against any misadventure.
On Wednesday, over 50 saints from across Karnataka met Yediyurappa and expressed their faith in him.
Siddhalinga Swami of Siddaganga Matha, one of the most powerful monasteries in the state, led a delegation of saints and asked the BJP leadership not to remove Yeddyurappa from the CM’s chair.
Talking to the media, he said, “This is not a Lingayat fight. Yediyurappa is the leader of Karnataka. He has done well. Why should he go? We want him to continue till the next assembly elections to be held in April 2023.
Some saints accompanying him allegedly raised slogans in favor of Yediyurappa, causing embarrassment to the chief minister.
The open support from the seers has further complicated matters for the BJP, which hopes for an early and amicable solution to the current standoff.
Two BJP MLAs who openly opposed Yeddyurappa have criticized the interference of sadhus in the state politics. Lingayat MLA BR Patil Yatnal has asked saints not to support a corrupt chief minister for personal gains. Taking a jibe at the Yediyurappa camp, he has termed these events as phased.
BJP MLC and Congress-JDS turncoat H Vishwanath have also publicly attacked saints for supporting Yeddyurappa. He said that it does not suit the sadhus to do politics.
Yediyurappa belongs to the Lingayat community which constitutes about 16% of the total population of Karnataka. He is considered to be the most powerful both economically and politically. They are also a pan-Karnataka community.
Yeddyurappa, who grabbed power by toppling the JDS-Congress coalition government led by HD Kumaraswamy two years ago, is completing his two years on July 26. His rival factions are confident that he will then be forced to step down.
Will saffron-clad people be able to rule the BJP high command? One will have to wait and see.